Friday, 09 December 2011 09:27

Medicine Hat lecture Friday night to discuss Alberta’s water woes

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Jeremy Schmidt, Trudeau Scholar from the University of Western Ontario and author of a new report, Alternative Water Futures in Alberta, will speak Friday night at the Medicine Hat College as part of a five-city tour with the Our Water Is Not For Sale network.

On Monday, the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute released the report, which shows that an expansion of water markets in Alberta would have adverse effects on the environment, people’s access to water, and First Nations communities. The report also recommends alternatives for dealing with Alberta’s current water crisis that would be more in keeping with Albertans’ values, and the values that underlie Alberta’s historical water laws.

The report and the tour come as the Alberta government prepares to announce its plans for public consultations on the future of water allocation in Alberta—consultations that were first promised over two years ago.

Schmidt, says that it would not only be problematic to build a water market on top of the existing rights regime, but that in many ways markets are actually directly opposed to the foundational ideas that underlie the entire water allocation regime we have today.

“Considering the flaws in Alberta's existing water framework, and looking at the water problems the province is struggling with, it doesn't make sense to look at it only as an economic issue,” says Schmidt. “Alberta needs a broader, more comprehensive framework that can be flexible in responding to future uncertainties. The one-size-fits-all market approach the government is considering doesn't fit the bill.”

“People in the Medicine Hat area should be very concerned about developments with water markets, and be actively engaged in the debate about the future of water in the province,” says Scott Harris, Prairies Organizer with the Council of Canadians, a member group of the Our Water Is Not For Sale network. “Unfortunately, they’ve been left out of the allocation review by the government for the past three years, so this report and tour is one way to start having these critical discussions in our communities.”

“Water markets do not take into consideration the environment, the needs of the community, and First Nations people. We need to protect water in the public interest, not to pursue policies that would commodify our water,” says Marle Roberts, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees, Alberta Division, one of the tour’s sponsors.

Schmidt will deliver a public presentation, 7pm, at Medicine Hat College, Room S154, 299 College Drive South East.

Report available at Tour details at

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