Red Deer Workshop: September 24, 2013


Public and



of Terms


Red Deer
Quality Inn North Hill
Sept 24, 2013
10am – 3pm


  • To seek input and have discussions on the Background Technical Report (surface water quantity / groundwater resources) for the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP)
  • To find out what stakeholders are already doing in the areas of surface water quantity and groundwater
  • To build collaborative relationships with stakeholders so they will assist in the implementation of the IWMP

Welcome and introductions, housekeeping, roles and ground rules, agenda review
Background on watershed planning process. Presentation by Alan Dolan (download PDF).

George Roman of O2 Planning + Design presented on the Background Technical Report - Surface Water Quantity and Groundwater Resources

George's presentation on surface water quantity and the Background Technical Report can be viewed here (PDF).

Questions / Comments

  • Concerned that 50% of the water comes from the headwaters - why are we not focusing on protection of the headwaters - Buffalo pasture enhancement programs (burning, aggressive logging) grazing leases for cattle (overgrazing)
  • Re: flooding or drought - nothing is very clear that particular practices will conclusively cause severe flooding or drought
  • Robert Sanford and Dr. John Pomeroy have done extensive research in this area; need to look closer at these documents
  • Are there any water users that are exempt from allocation limits? - No
  • Re: hydraulic fracking water use - has there been any reference made to total removal from the hydrologic cycle and its impacts?
  • Climate change is accelerating the hydrologic cycle - i.e., more water is making its way inland, fracking water use impacts are not expected to be severe
  • Inundation study being done this year (1 in 100 year flood impact) - being conducted by Government of Alberta
  • People like to engage the river, but they don’t like it so much when the river engages them (i.e., flooding impacts)
  • Flood frequency return periods is a linear model (e.g., “Pacific decadal oscillation” - 30-yr cycle), every extreme event will change the observational record

Why is wetlands data not included? - That area was covered in Background Technical Report 2 (Wetlands, Riparian Areas and Land Use)


Jon Fennell of Integrated Sustainability Consultants presented on the Groundwater Resources of the Red Deer River Watershed

Jon's presentation can be viewed here (PDF).

Questions / Comments

  • Are we ignoring the risk of high pressure, high volume fracks pushing saline water into usable / potable water zones? 
  • Certain zones are more active than others, not all flow systems are the same, e.g., Paskapoo formation - age-dating (radiogenic isotopes) to measure groundwater... at depths of 50m to 150m the age is 50,000 to 2 million years old . . . with some deeper formations it is registering at many millions of years old
  • Is there any correlation between stats presented and groundwater?
  • In 2005, very large recharge event in Okotoks (approx. 6 m), ever since has been slowly declining - decadal, in Calgary and southern part of the province (in wells) general increasing water levels to 1997, decreasing to 2002, increasing levels since then
  • Correlation between climate cycles and groundwater? Yes, historic variability is important to understand (e.g., “Palliser variability” - periods of extreme drought impacting human settlement / development)
  • Re: monitoring wells, can we identify weaknesses in groundwater monitoring?
  • There have been efforts to monitor groundwater in Alberta where higher density activity has been occurring, Provincial Groundwater Atlas has been created in Alberta; can benefit from additional monitoring wells


Breakout groups (answer two questions)

  1. What is your organization doing with regard to surface water quantity and groundwater?
  2. How can we work together to implement the actions in the background technical report?

Group harvest from breakout groups

Group #1 Notes

What's Being Done?

  • Monitoring
  • People need broad understanding but need to start with what's being done
  • Monitoring stations – but accessibility of data and dissemination needs a lot of work
  • Reports produced – but need more interactive information / web tools
  • Water temperature gauges in the river
  • Concern with instream flows (re: fish)
  • Some communities have community stewards
  • Need “critical levels” to trigger cutbacks
  • Need more consultation on water conservation objectives (WCOs)
  • Fish and Game – advocating for fish, fish habitat and spawning areas
  • Reviewing policies, developments
  • Education to politicians and public
  • Some municipal conservation efforts
  • Flood-proofing, drought-proofing
  • Goal: water security
  • Inadequate resources to monitor licences/users
  • Users need to take more responsibility for their own actions
  • Need fuller engagement
  • Issue licences – could have staff involved in RDRWA processes
  • Town of Bentley stormwater retention pond installed
  • Bentley drilled additional well
  • Need to understand cumulative effects of multiple wells (e.g., where individual users drill own wells)
  • Newsletters – but could use more media
  • Need to use Twitter
  • City of Red Deer ongoing investment in water and wastewater infrastructure
  • City of Red Deer Environmental Master Plan
  • Red Deer River Municipal Users Group
  • School education programs (outreach)
  • Educating
  • Water rate change to conservation model
  • Leak detection
  • Water / creek monitoring study (City of Red Deer)
  • Idea: charge a levy on water licenses
  • Church focus on spirituality of water
  • Church camps on water
  • Education and awareness
  • Communicating connectivity of water
  • First Nations connectivity to water
  • Acknowledge and encouraging efforts to protect water
  • Province is regulating
  • Always room to improve in all sectors

How Can We Work Together?

  • Today
  • More communication in a clearer way
  • Tie importance of water to life
  • Recommendations need a timeline
  • Committee that is a multi-stakeholder watchdog (not partisan / political team) to see if plans are being implemented and, if not being done, they bring it to the attention or relevant groups
  • Annual review of key metrics
  • Short / medium / long-term reviews
  • Advocate to Province for key actions
  • Six key actions:
  1. Many sectors and partners working on connectivity / education / awareness of water issues (e.g., church camps, Fish & Game, municipalities)
  2. Advocacy for aquatic environment and sustainability, including follow through on report recommendations
  3. Monitoring, flood-proofing, drought-proofing, planning – disseminating information
  4. Need more information available to more people (e.g., use of technology)
  5. Set defined timelines in management plan and follow up on these
  6. Plan needs to be implemented in a non-partisan, ongoing manner

Group #1 Summary (Dianne)

  • Communication and education
  • Missing voices at the table - need to continue to engage and follow-up with all sectors
  • Drought proofing
  • Inadequate resources to monitor licences and users
  • Could have staff involved in the RDRWA process
  • Town of Bentley
  • Drilling wells
  • Understanding cumulative effects on well drilling
  • City of Red Deer Environmental Master Plan - storm water master plan
  • Charge or levy on water licences?
  • “Water is what unites us in the world” vs. “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting”
  • Many sectors and partners working on connectivity
  • Advocacy
  • Monitor flood-proofing and drought-proofing planning
  • Need more information available to more people
  • Set definitive timelines in management plan and follow up on these
  • Plan needs to be implemented in a non-partisan, engaging manner

Group #2 Notes

What's Being Done?

  • Lacombe – Sylvan Lake Management Committee – cumulative effects management system
  • Indicators for watershed health
  • Finished phase 1
  • Now looking at management practices
  • End goal – non-regulatory management practices
  • Lacombe County – State of Environment report; process of developing management plan
  • Barriers to implementing at the local level – no money, no regs to force implementation, lack of political will; municipalities do not realize the impact of their decisions on land-use / environment
  • Lack of info from developers to be able to regulate properly – major info gaps at different levels – thus “passing the buck”
  • The Land Use Framework (AESRD); management frameworks will be established for each topic if enough pressure, need regulations that could be established . . . Red Deer and Athabasca are last areas to have framework guidelines established (2015)
  • Alberta Lake Management Society (ALMS)
  • Drafted a guideline for lake management planning
  • Actively working with three lake groups for implementation (Mayatan Lakes, Pigeon Lake [lake monitoring study to set protocol], Wabaman Lake)
  • Working directly with AESRD on Lake Watch program
  • Positives - using the same framework
  • RDRWA have steering group who are looking at bringing the watershed together and comparing with other watersheds
  • Help to prioritize issues/needs in watershed as compared to other watersheds; 8 different sub-basins

How Can We Work Together?

  • Ask locals what info would be most useful to help implement
  • Data not at right level to help local municipalities / organizations to implement
  • Need more specific local info
  • Simple message – do whatever you can to conserve water
  • Avoid ecological infrastructure
  • Need to communicate regularly with public (e.g., newsletters, etc.)
  • Need to educate public (re: water conservation, etc.)
  • More interface between province, stewardship groups, and municipalities
  • Need to take the initiative to get out and do it
  • Problem of resources, political will, anti-government attitude, lack of regulations
  • Need a coordinated, tangible achievement regarding implementation

Group #2 Summary (Phil)

  • 2500L3 used for fracking
  • Engineering wetlands for stormwater catchment
  • Detaining water north of the Dickson Dam (pilot project)
  • Prepare scenarios on what to do with future water shortages

Group #3 Notes

What's Being Done?

  • Lacombe County – treated water pipelines, State of the Environment report
  • Sylvan Lake – planning tools and models for risk assessment, focus on lake water quality
  • AGS basin model (AESRD)
  • AESRD – summary of policies and programs on surface water quantity, hot-spots analysis (quantity demand)
  • Suncor – Rimbey area wells 2500 m3 fracks reduce needs volume and fresh technology improvements
  • City of Red Deer – flood-plain mapping, wet pond / engineered wetlands (stormwater treatment), stormwater outflow quality study

How Can We Work Together?

  • Pick one project and get on with it
  • e.g., detain water above Dickson Dam (headwaters: Phil)
  • What to do in future water shortage scenarios

Group #3 Summary (Blayne West)

  • Data needs (scale) and applicability varies from organization to organization
  • WPACs bring stakeholders together
  • Programs, frameworks - very similar between groups
  • Work at it - “heads down, butts up”

Group #4 Notes

What's Being Done?

  • Municipalities / Agriculture – education and awareness, grazing / manure management, Environmental Farm Plan, Working Well workshop, surface / groundwater awareness, helping pay for change, working well plugging, SS workshops, tree planting, Green Acreages Guide (Land Stewardship Centre), shock chlorination (wells), Environmental Coordinator (staff) and State of Environment Report (Lacombe) – surveyed community and passed policy
  • Four major lakes involved as counsel on watershed societies, data gaps to be filled, could link to AESRD website (standards / parameters / data)
  • First work on surface and groundwater quality and quantity 
  • Natural Resources Conservation Board – NRCB risk analysis and approvals, livestock operations / surface and groundwater / confined feeding operations / manure contamination / require water sampling / type of manure storage / (earthen / contained) / monitoring storage / based on vulnerability of groundwater and complaints and age of operation (pre 2002) / odour complaints / sampling time of year is variable (e.g. winter) / work under Agriculture Operations Protection Act / downsizing/decommissioning
  • Issue permits, assess risk, enforce compliance re: livestock operations
  • AESRD groundwater policy design (re: hydraulic fracturing / oil and gas industry) – leading panel of four experts
  • Baseline water well testing / protect private wells' quality and quantity
  • Protect water resources while not burdening industry unnecessarily
  • Working Well program involvement
  • Education
  • Separating science fact from fiction (e.g., toxic gases in drinking water)
  • Interact with industry
  • AESRD surface water – west central Alberta project / high fracking area / regional hydrologic model / GIS layers
  • Website tool in development based on BC model - North East Water Tool (NEWT) – BC oil and gas commission website
  • Alberta WaterSmart
  • Bow River climate change scenarios
  • Used to evaluate licensing
  • Future = Old man, etc. sub-watersheds
  • Observer
  • AESRD Dickson Dam – water quantity / assured water supply / winter flows / store and release / quantity increase water quality / lake stabilization / reservoirs / pumphouses / duck habitat / minimum flows based on instream flow study (16m3/sec minimum flow in RD River) above Medicine Lake and Little Red Deer rivers/ reduce downstream (pre-release) impacts / apportionment (increase to meet requirements for Saskatchewan) / “possible” cottonwood rejuvenation through controlled release

Group #4 Summary (Gary Lewis) - group didn't get to question 2

  • Certain sizes and ages of livestock operations
  • Municipal council represented - e.g., Lacombe County State of Environment Report
  • Hydraulic fracking - protect private water wells
  • Education - separating solid science fact from fiction (conjecture)
  • West Central Alberta project - developing a web tool based on BC project
  • Ground and surface water management
  • Working Well workshops
  • Septic system workshops
  • Green Acreages Guide via Land Stewardship Centre of Canada
  • Shock chlorination treatment

Next steps

Online response form is open until October 15, 2013

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