Tuesday, 21 November 2017 04:08

OWC has major help through volunteers and members

Written by  Demi Knight
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Volunteers gathered to help with Oldman Watershed Council's 2017 Willow Harvest and Restoration Volunteers gathered to help with Oldman Watershed Council's 2017 Willow Harvest and Restoration Photo contributed by Oldman Watershed Council

The Oldman Watershed Council is a staple part of southern Alberta’s efforts to maintain and take care of the precious watershed taking up 23,000km of southwest Alberta.

With the beautifully scenic Rocky Mountains flowing into the headwaters of the Oldman river stream and all it’s tributaries, contributing to a watershed that is vital to the well-being of land within southern Alberta, the non-profit organization that is the Oldman Watershed Council works with volunteers and members throughout the year to help keep this watershed healthy now and into the future.
“We are not funded by government and more support from community means the more effective we can be… We have a very small staff and we have a whole watershed to look after,” says communication specialist with Oldman Watershed Council Anna Garleff.
With the size and allocated licensing that the watershed has within the province, Garleff went on to say that looking after the area is imperative to every community that relies on the water for their personal needs.
“We’re in a semi aired climate, meaning that we’re basically a desert, but people seem to forget that because they see that we have flourishing wonderful agriculture and it lures us into a false sense of abundance, however if we don’t respect its natural capacities and the need for all of us to make conscious decisions of what we’re doing with the water then eventually it will vanish.”
“This is the only watershed in southern Alberta that is actually over- allocated,” added Garleff. “(This) meaning that there is more licensing out there for people to withdraw water than there is actual water… causing it to Vanish at 1% a year, we don’t even notice it and it seems like nothing changes and people don’t see it with all the green fields, it’s a tough sell, but it’s becoming increasingly urgent.”
However, with the help of community members, organizations, groups and leaders, the Oldman Watershed Council has been able to work over the years to create more awareness of over-use problems as well as encourage other ways to create a healthy watershed throughout its stretch across the province.
Whether it’s through pledging to help the watershed with their own personal projects or signing up to be a part of organized events such as clean-ups, volunteers promising their time makes all the difference with the council and the work they do to make a positive impact.
“A non-profit can not be effective without its volunteers and elected officials really caring about being a part of it and helping, because if they aren’t putting their weight behind something like this then it’s difficult to make differences,” says Garleff.
Through initiatives such as engaging recreational programs, the watershed legacy program and the Southern Alberta Water Charter, the Oldman watershed council has engaged partners throughout the province to become a part of the solution rather than the problem and many members are proud to have done their part.
With community’s and organizations such as the Taber Irrigation District, the City of Lethbridge, Chinook Food Connect and the M.D of Willow Creek all signing on to be a part of helping the watershed flourish through various projects, the Oldman Watershed Council administrative members couldn’t be happier with the positive results that these efforts have created.
It is through these continued volunteer and members efforts, Garleff made clear that the Oldman Watershed Council hopes to better create safer water supplies, services and habitats for wildlife and plants that are vital to our areas overall well being.
“We talk about huge investments in flood mitigation and, yet we keep ploughing through wetlands!” says Garleff on a final note.
“We know what the solutions are, and I hope that with these continued initiatives we can give people a way of working together with different pursuits of livelihoods and different attitudes to create a healthier watershed.”
 Throughout all months of the year, the Oldman Watershed Council is ecstatic to welcome volunteers and members from across the province in any way shape or form in helping the Oldman watershed flourish and continue to serve southern Alberta in the years to come.
All those interested in signing up or volunteering their time to the organization can find out more by visiting the Oldman Watershed Council’s website at: http://oldmanwatershed.ca/ donate/

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