Thursday, 01 March 2018 11:08

AEP will not be stripping farmers, ranchers of water licences; Phillips responds to Prairie Post story

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Farmers and ranchers who have received a letter from Alberta Environment and Parks regarding their water licences can be assured that none will have those water rights taken away, according to a statement sent to the Prairie Post on Friday afternoon (Feb. 23).

"First, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that not a single rancher in Alberta is going to be stripped of their water access. Department officials, in their work to address some legacy issues around modernizing water licenses, incorrectly closed applications from a small number of producers who needed to provide some additional information in modernizing their licenses. We are now working to correct this error," said Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, in the written statement. "Ranchers and farmers in Alberta are the foundation on which Alberta was built and they will be respected as these issues are resolved. I have directed my officials to sit down with each and every rancher who has licence issues and support them in ensuring they have the access to water they need to continue to care for their livestock and earn a living off the land."
Also, while plans for better water management practices are in place for the Milk River Basin, Phillips noted that further legislation is not part of that planning.
“With regard to historic water issues in the Milk River basin, there is no question that careful planning is needed. We are not talking about legislation in any form. As government explores solutions, we will work in partnership with farmers, ranchers, municipalities, and all Albertans who rely on this source of water."
While rancher Aaron Brower, who was one who did receive the letter and faced a series of roadblocks in attempting to correct the situation with Alberta Environment's Lethbridge office has not yet heard back from any of the department's representatives as of Monday, Feb. 26, Phillips said in the statement to the Prairie Post that people who received the letter are encouraged to contact her office for assistance.
“I ask any rancher who received a letter in December 2017 regarding a closure of their application to please contact my office at 1-780-427-2391 and we will assist you,” Phillips wrote in the statement.

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