Celebrating a Milestone (IWMP Update)

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World Water Day (March 22) was a day of celebration for the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, as we released the first phase of an integrated watershed management plan that has been years in the making. 

Blueprint: An Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Red Deer River Watershed (Phase One: Water Quality) presents goals, targets, and recommendations to maintain and improve water quality across the watershed. In case you missed the announcement, more information about the plan is available here and it can be downloaded here.

The release of Blueprint marks a major milestone in the RDRWA’s history, and we hope it will be an important touchstone for our shared efforts moving forward. That being said, plans do little good tucked away in a drawer, so we have also been working with a range of partners to support Blueprint’s implementation in creative ways. For example, we have been leading Project Blue Thumb: Action on Water Quality Issues, a social innovation lab that brings together a diverse (and growing) team of people to design, test, and iterate solutions to water quality issues (more here: www.projectbluethumb.com).

Between launching Blueprint and running the social lab, the first few months of 2016 were a whirlwind for the RDRWA’s watershed management activities. Here are some of the standout headlines from our work in early 2016:

  • RDRWA Board of Directors unanimously approves Blueprint: On January 22, 2016, the RDRWA Board of Directors approved Blueprint (Phase One) with full consensus. Reaching consensus with a multi-stakeholder, multi-sector Board was a wonderful way to finish Phase One. Now on to Phase Two (Watershed Health Metrics)!
  • The Project Blue Thumb social lab team meets for 4 workshop: Around 25 people met for the lab’s fourth workshop over two packed days in early February. The team worked on “systems maps” of the watershed, identified key drivers of water quality, and also worked in teams to advance prototypes in areas of water literacy, waste energy, land use planning, municipal engagement, and more. An expanded lab team will meet again from May 16-18 (see www.projectbluethumb.com for updates).
  • Blueprint given finishing design touches: We were really fortunate to work with Matthew Knapik of kilometre design to create the look and layout of Blueprint. He helped turn the “ugly duckling” unformatted version of Blueprint into the stylized “swan” it is now. We have some better graphics and illustrations to support our outreach work too.
  • Blueprint (Phase One) launched on World Water Day: We released Blueprint to our community on March 22 and received some good media coverage. The Red Deer Advocate, the Rocky Mountaineer, the Mountain View Gazette, the Bow River Basin Council, and Water Canada Magazine all featured stories about Blueprint, with others using Twitter and Facebook to help get the word out. We will continue to share Blueprint regularly through various channels so please help out if you can! (Twitter: @RDRWA; Facebook: Red Deer River Watershed Alliance).

To top all of this activity off, we also held our Spring Forum in Alix on March 11th, presented to 150+ people about Project Blue Thumb during Alberta Ecotrust’s Change the Climate conference on February 26, and held our last official Ambassador Breakfast on February 19 and more). We also designed a new approach to our events and engagement, so check out our Events Calendar for opportunities to get involved.

Some upcoming highlights:

If we have learned one thing from developing Blueprint, it is that watershed management is very complex – involving multiple issues, actors, and perspectives, within changing social, economic, and environmental contexts. The only way forward is to join forces and grapple with this complexity together, through all of the ups and downs, detours, small wins, and breakthrough moments. Thank-you to all who have played a part - event participants, committee volunteers, subject matter experts and more. The path isn’t always easy, but it sure is rewarding when we stick with it.

Finally, we would also like to give special thanks to those who funded Phase One of Blueprint. It has taken a lot of work to get to this stage, and we couldn’t have done it without committed support. Thank-you!

IWMP Sponsors

Submitted by Josée Méthot - Watershed Planning Manager

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