Wednesday, 23 November 2011 14:15

Oldman Watershed Council seeks public input into long-term goals

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By Susan Quinlan
Southern Alberta
The Oldman Watershed Council (OWC) recently announced completion of The Oldman Watershed Plan, promoting action to maintain the health of the watershed.



The council is now asking the public to review the plan and provide input regarding the eight long-term goals it sets out.

“We need to know that the people support the plan. When talking to government and other sectors, the first thing we’re asked is do you have community support, otherwise the plan’s actions won’t be supported,” said OWC Executive Director Shannon Frank.

On another level, said Frank, water is everybody’s resource.

“We all need it and we all share this resource. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to keep our water resource intact.”

Frank said she thinks there’s a lot of concern regarding this vital resource. However, people tend to think someone else will take care of it.

“Attending a session or filling out the online questionnaire shows your support for the actions in the plan. This is your opportunity to review it and become involved in developing action plans for each goal,”

Overall, the goals of the plan focus on maintaining the health of the watershed. This includes protecting the headwaters through to controlling invasive plant species and understanding how groundwater interacts with surface water. There is also a focus on increasing public awareness of this resource, ensuring its availability in natural ecosystems and in meeting the social and economic needs of communities throughout southern Alberta.

One of 11 Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils across the province, The Oldman Watershed Council is a not-for-profit organization and a registered charity. Although independent from government, the provincial government mandates the councils’ roles, which include assessing the overall health of the watershed and setting out goals to manage and maintain this resource.

“We have members from every sector; irrigation, agriculture, industry and others,” said Frank. “We try to get everyone’s point of view into the mix, looking at the watershed and looking for solutions.”

It’s important to note government supports what the public is most concerned about, and a number of surveys indicate public attention is focused on the environment, said Frank. Interest in the environment needs to translate into action. That can be as simple and straightforward as filling out the online questionnaire. When responses from the information gathering sessions and online questionnaires are tallied, it shows government the degree to which the public is supportive of the health of the watershed.

Frank encouraged those unable to attend a public information session to fill out the online questionnaire which will be posted until Dec. 10 at: http://oldmanbasin.org/. The goals of the plan can also be read at that site.


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