Blog | January 11, 2013

>By Jackie L. Larson, Edmonton SunWatchdogs are worried the government’s million-dollar “Water Conversation” will white-wash public consultations about Alberta’s water allocation system.Alberta Environment will hold three-hour meetings in 20 communities, but early government documents suggest a it’s a public relations effort, said Scott Harris of The Council of Canadians, a member of the Our Water Is Not For Sale network.“It seems as though this process is about putting a tick in the box to say that Albertans have been consulted, without allowing them to actually address the issues or influence policy,” said Harris.Attendees at each regional meeting will get 30 minutes total at each of five tables to discuss water management, hydraulic fracturing, drinking water, wastewater and healthy lakes, Harris said.Critics say the government’s own documents say “This is not a process to consult on policy.”Controversial plans for a province-wide market for water licences are on the table, Harris said.An attached earlier document said a “move to formal water pricing” was out of the discussion’s scope, but later versions replace that with “water for sale to the U.S.”“Sale of water to the U.S. is a red herring,” said Harris, adding Albertans deserve to know is if the government’s still planning a province-wide water market.The official opposition said the Tories may be avoiding key water issues.“With this government’s history of pre-determining the results of consultations, we need to know that these consultations will be fully open with all issues available at the table,” said Wildrose Environment Critic Joe Anglin.By Jackie L. Larson, Edmonton SunThis article was published in the Edmonton Sun on January 11, 2013. Read the article on the Edmonton Sun website.