EDMONTON—The Our Water Is Not For Sale network has obtained internal government documents and reports that reveal that the provincial and federal governments knew that the water management plan for the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) would not resolve serious problems, and in fact would worsen the health of the southern river system.
“These documents highlight the fact that the creation of a provincial water market is not about preserving our environment,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta and board member of the Council of Canadians. “It is critical that each leadership candidate and political party outline their position on how to address the problems in our water allocation system, rather than use them as an excuse to promote market ideology that will worsen our province’s water problems.”
Throughout the documents, which include minutes and e-mails from the steering committee of the SSRB water management plan, it is recognized that “Even with an allocation cap it is expected the deterioration of the aquatic environment will continue as the existing licences divert more water to the full extent of their allocations.”
"The Government's documents on the estimated effects on the river flows highlight serious environmental concerns with a major loss in aquatic life and biodiversity,” explains Sheila Muxlow with the Sierra Club Prairie. “Furthermore, the Government of Alberta knew the health of the South Saskatchewan River Basin would be compromised with the introduction of a water market, and yet was content to sacrifice these ecosystems for an irresponsible ideology."
The documents also reveal that the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans disassociated from the plan because it would be “insufficient to protect the aquatic environment”.
“We have seen little action from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans since they determined that the ‘water conservation objectives are insufficient to protect the aquatic environment’,” said Meera Karunananthan, National Water Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Why has the Federal government remained silent all of these years? And will the DFO join us in denouncing Alberta's irresponsible market-based allocation system?”
The Our Water Is Not For Sale network has written to the leadership candidates for the Conservative Party asking that they openly state their position on water markets. We are also asking that the other political parties define their position on this critical issue prior to the next election.
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director, Public Interest Alberta (780) 420-0471
Sheila Muxlow, Director, Sierra Club Prairie (780) 660-0312
Meera Karunananthan, National Water Campaigner, Council of Canadians (613) 233-2773 ext 234
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians (613) 233-4487 ext 249
The government documents are available in PDF at: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/pialberta-org/Documents/SSRB-WMP-Documents.pdf
A background summary on the documents is available in PDF at: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/pialberta-org/Documents/SSRB-WMP-Backgrounder.pdf