Thursday, 29 November 2012 08:02

SEAWA’s IWMP strategic plan discussed

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Natalie Kromrey, with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Development, points out some of the areas along the South Saskatchewan River Basin that were monitored in the past year with water sampling and testing. She talked about water quality at a general meeting of the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance Nov. 22. Natalie Kromrey, with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Development, points out some of the areas along the South Saskatchewan River Basin that were monitored in the past year with water sampling and testing. She talked about water quality at a general meeting of the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance Nov. 22. Photo by Rose Sanchez

A general meeting for those with an interest in the work of the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance (SEAWA) was a chance to see the strategic plan for the organizations Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP).


SEAWA is pulling the plan together for the provincial government with help from numerous stakeholders. It was discussed at a general meeting of the membership and interested individuals in Medicine Hat on Nov. 22.
“It’s a way to work together to manage the watershed,” says Maggie Romuld, IWMP project manager. “(The plan) helps guide development, maintenance or restoration of the watershed while balancing environmental, social and economic needs. It also provides watershed management advice to decision-making authorities to address issues raised by stakeholders.”
The IWMP document also helps achieve the three goals of Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy: safe, secure drinking water; healthy aquatic ecosystems; and reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy.
Since the process was started last fall, SEAWA officials have held numerous public meetings, workshops, completed surveys and met with stakeholders to gather the information needed to formulate the strategic plan  for the IWMP for the South Saskatchewan River Sub-basin.
A strategic plan outlines the schedule of phases and outcomes for the IWMP. The order of priorities to be addressed through the South Saskatchewan Sub-basin IWMP process include:
• Phase 2 — Outcome 1: Stakeholders are engaged and informed about watershed issues;
• Concurrent Phase 2 focus is water monitoring and filling the water quality data gaps.
• Phase 3: Water quality is maintained and improved;
• Phase 4: Water quantity is sufficient to meet all social, economic and environmental uses;
• Phase 5: Watershed ecosystems are maintained, restored and enhanced.
According to the draft document, Phase 2 of the plan would take place from 2013-2015 (Outcome 1). The focus is for stakeholders to become engaged and informed and concurrently for continued water monitoring to help fill water quality data gaps. Through the three years, continued outreach will take place to help build partnerships with the public and decision makers. By 2015 the plan suggests threshold and specific objectives concerning water quality could be developed.
Phase 3 of the plan, seen to occur from 2015-2018 includes maintaining and improving water quality for both surface and ground water; long-term monitoring of quality of water is established; and groundwater quality monitoring is underway.
Phase 4 deals with examining current flow policies, practices and tools and looking at allocation.
Phase 5 slated for 2020-2022 will look at landuse and ecosystems biodiversity.
The IWMP is meant to be an evolving document that will be adjusted from year to year and phase to phase.
Work on Outcome 1 — engaging and informing stakeholders about watershed issues — is already underway as SEAWA officials have been undertaking numerous outreach opportunities the past year, attending events and meeting with stakeholders.
To help fill in water data gaps in preparation for Phase 3 of the plan, two goals have been set. One is to compile a summary report that will outline existing water monitoring programs and projects and identify organizations currently involved in water monitoring and their respective programs. The other is to continue water quality-related projects started this year including tributary and lake monitoring and mapping outfalls and potential sources of contamination.
“Water quality consistently comes up as an issue,” says Romuld, when people discuss water. She adds there isn’t enough data gathered yet about the South Saskatchewan area adding out of the six water basins, only two have had water quality measured.
“The strategic plan is a working roadmap for the Integrated Watershed Management Plan.”
With the completion of the strategic plan, the terms of reference will be done in the spring of 2013. That will detail how the IWMP will be implemented in its various stages.
More information about SEAWA and the IWMP is available online at: http://www.seawa.ca/.

Read 3367 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 November 2012 08:06
Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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