Friday, 13 January 2017 08:00

Oldman Watershed Council hopes more sign on to Water Charter

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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The Oldman Watershed Council (OWC) is excited for its new proposed Water Charter 2017 which is targeted to benefit the southwest part of the province.


Anna Garleff, communications specialist for the OWC, says this water charter is important because it is a formal confirmation from both citizens and their municipal leaders they are not only standing behind watershed protection on a theoretical level, but people throughout the Oldman Watershed now recognize there is a heightened sense of urgency and people are ready to act.
“We hope that all the municipal, county and industry leaders … will sign on and that key community organizations and schools will also want to throw their support behind the movement and show the rest of  the province that southern Alberta can demonstrate leadership,” says Garleff.
Municipal leaders can add themselves to this charter and be a part of the initiative.
It was a good day for the OWC, when on Nov. 3 the City of Lethbridge added itself to the charter. By signing the charter, the community pledges it will do what it can to help better the watershed. Other communities or groups that have signed up include the M.D. of Pincher Creek, Coalhurst, Nobleford, Pogo Bros and Vauxhall.
Garleff says Nanton has also expressed interest in signing the charter and will be following up with the OWC in the new year. Many irrigation district administrators have shown interest as well.
“We hope that people will find out that watershed stewardship is very rewarding and that it is easy and fun to make … positive change. We hope people will make new connections and friendships and experience the satisfaction of having done something truly beneficial for everyone who lives, works and plays in the Oldman … including for our furred and finned friends,” adds Garleff.
This charter is an elective commitment to a specific act and that is to do something on the ground that has an immediate, positive effect on watershed health.
Garleff says the activities of the charter will kick off on the May long weekend and organizations can participate at any time. Water acts can range anywhere from garbage pick-ups and weed pulls to stopping the purchase of bottled water. People can also take part in storm drain clean ups, stream bank restoration work and bridge decking. These activities can be done anywhere in the watershed.
With this charter, the OWC will also organize classroom presentations.
The Southern Alberta Water Charter 2017 consists of four parts. The first is the organization formally signs on and the OWC provides a media event and social media coverage of their journey from beginning to completion. The second is the signed SAWC17 is put on the organization’s website, along with a ‘badge’, which is the Oldman’s logo. When clicked on, it opens up an OWC video that best aligns with that organization’s values and goals (there are nine videos completed and the OWC is still producing videos). Third, is a brief description of the organization’s commitment and how it will benefit the Oldman watershed. Finally there are updates such as photographs, links to social media and web updates  on the progress with Water Act.
All of the activities will wrap up on the September long weekend and shortly after, the OWC will hold an award ceremony to honour various categories in their achievements and work towards becoming better watershed stewards, says Garleff.
The OWC will also begin making presentations to other towns and organizations in the new year.
“We hope very much that everyone will be excited about the opportunities the SAWC17 offers and  join us in the summer’s fun. It is a terrific team and community-building opportunity. Groups can … join together to accomplish a larger activity and make a real day of it,” says Garleff.
Organizers also hope to see interest from the Blood Tribe, Piikani Nation and communities from High River to Cardston.
The awards ceremony that will close the SAWC17 will be a lively event. Garleff says it will highlight in photos and stories, the adventures that everyone had and bring watershed protection out from the dark corners of policy and theory into the hearts and minds of citizens throughout southern Alberta.
“After all, we are all downstream … we depend on one another to keep our water clean and clear. Maybe one day, the rivers will be clean enough to drink from again,” adds Garleff.
To view the different informational videos the OWC has created, visit: https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UC0Z2-8Qe9ZcM7tTt57SqDtA.
These videos are free for anyone to use and put on their websites or use to introduce topics, meetings and demonstrate their commitment to watershed health.
For more information on the Water Charter visit: https://oldmanwatershed.ca/proj/water-charter.

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