Water Policy May Come By Year’s End

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Alberta Environment will complete the first phase of its new cumulative effects policy by March 31. It’s designed to help meet changing conditions with integrated planning for water, land, air and biodiversity, says a department assistant deputy minister.

Bev Yee told the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association annual conference that the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, which will likely affect other acts such as the Water Act, will come from comprehensive water basin information.

The tough work is deciding what must be enshrined in legislation to make the system work, Yee said. “There has been a lot of data gathering on the river basins to come up with regional plans,” she said. “We have to affirm plans set out are correct or make changes.”

Yee said government recognized limitations right from the start, and agrees that managing the resources must be within the capacity of the watershed. And the four resource sectors – water, air, land and biodiversity – must be weighed from environmental, economic and social values. “We need much more robust assessment to get right outcomes,” she said.

The next phase of policy development will come the end of 2010, with regulatory pieces likely in place by the end of the 2010 fiscal year. The final ruling of regulations will come after staff has a meeting with Environment Minister Rob Renner, hopefully by spring 2011. If not accomplished by then, that work would have to wait until the next provincial election.

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