Local Government Workshop: Nov 26, 2012

Local Government
Stakeholder Workshop Meeting Notes
Nov 26, 2012, 10 am – 3 pm
iHotel - 6500 67th St, Red Deer, AB

Welcome & Introductions – provided by Dug Major (RDRWA Board of Directors)

Background on watershed planning process - Presentation by Alan Dolan, Project Manager

  1. Surface Water Quality - published July 2012
  2. Land Use, Riparian Areas, and Wetlands - published February 2013
  3. Water Quantity and Ground Water - to be published August 2013
  4. Terrestrial and Aquatic Biodiversity - to be published December 2013

Draft IWMP – March 2014

Four Background Technical Reports are being produced; one for each category above as appendices to the Integrated Watershed Management Plan. The reports are being authored by professional experts in each field and draw on background technical information to help determine final targets for the IWMP. The reports make recommendations on actions, present socio-economic analysis, and inform the development of an implementation framework for best management practices in the Red Deer River Watershed.

Government, industry, agriculture, and conservation groups are the implementers of the IWMP and implementation will be ongoing with the direction of multi-stakeholder teams with scientific and technical support.

Workshop objectives

  • To seek input and have discussions on the wetlands, riparian areas and land use Background Technical Report for the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP)
  • To find out what stakeholders are doing in the areas of wetlands, riparian areas & land use
  • To build collaborative relationships with stakeholders so they will assist in the implementation of the IWMP to ensure everyone has an opportunity to be heard
  • To document the proceedings
  • To evaluate the process so that subsequent meetings can better meet participants’ needs

Link to Intro Presentation

Wetlands, Riparian Areas and Land Use (George Roman - O2 Planning + Design)

George Roman presented on the “Draft Background Technical Report on Riparian Areas, Wetlands, and Land Use” produced by O2 Planning + Design. The Executive Summary and the full report can be downloaded from the RDRWA website.

Link to O2 Presentation

Questions and discussion on presentation

Wetlands and Riparian Areas
 

  • When you inventory wetland density does it take into account that some of these wetlands may be ephemeral and only present for very short periods of time in the Spring? Answer: The wetland density includes all permanent and temporary wetlands throughout the year. Speaker felt it is an over-estimate, especially the last few years, based on his personal knowledge of the area.
  • Is there data on wetland loss from 2001 to present day? Answer: No not very good data; to generate wetlands inventory every two or three years there would have to be dedicated provincial government resources.
  • Is there consideration of Transfer of Development Credits (TDCs)? Answer: Yes, provincial and municipal compensation programs – losses are to be replaced elsewhere?
  • Re: agricultural drainage and irrigation – is what remains still considered a wetland? Answer: No – if it's drained and irrigated, it's not considered a wetland.
  • Water quality needs to be integrated into these discussions
  • How are the targets set for the actual units of areas? Do areas that don't really contribute to the river get counted? Answer: No non-contributing areas are not counted
  • Re: Riparian Area Bylaws Awareness is probably already 100%. “100% of target for municipalities . . . How would you enforce this? How do you see that compliance being administered? Answer: Education, compliance and applicability is typically specified in the wording of the bylaws / policies. Speaker suggested using “policies” instead of “bylaws” because bylaws are not enforceable. Use incentives (e.g., TDCs, conservation easements) as opposed to penalties — carrot versus stick
  • Need incentives to protect and restore riparian areas the same as we have for wetlands
  • Need guidance on what to plant in riparian areas
  • Re: producers converting riparian edges into hay, there's opportunity in larger integration of landowner input to inform how setbacks would be achieved; ensure that both water quantity and quality are taken into account (farmers are concerned about having enough water)
  • Re: timelines – include examples of short-term / medium-term objectives; consistent definitions of short-, medium-, and long-term especially in the final plan

Land Use

  • Re: “natural areas” in east Alberta (alkali) - remote sensing data – tamed pasture vs. native pasture
  • Re: “permanent urban” - what does minimizing permanent industrial land use mean? Answer: It means minimizing the loss of agricultural and natural land due to urban development
  • Managing the outcomes (e.g., for the tax base) 
  • Suggest using the word “permanent” as any use that prevents future changes (e.g., mining that will never be replaced). “Permanent” was meant to indicate density targets
  • Need to include rural development impacts in overall impact measures. We are in an era of urban development (e.g., along highways, industrial strips, development in Lacombe County around Sylvan Lake and around other lakes)
  • Explain “non-contributing areas”? Answer: In a 2-year flood event, that area does not contribute any surface water to streams . . . only to small drainage depressions
  • Re: limit rip-rap (seeking clarification). Answer: Benefits of bioengineering — potential for costs savings by using natural designs versus manufactured resources
  • Would be great to have case studies that demonstrate a problem and what solution someone came up with Important to link land use plans – i.e., Red Deer land use plan, south Saskatchewan land use plan

Lunch

Questions and discussion on presentation (cont’d)

  • Encouraging activities (re: bylaws and policies) – for ag producers . . . most want to do the right thing, increasing awareness is very important about “the right thing to do” (e.g., Cows & Fish)
  • Tax incentive on quarter sections so that landowners won't rip it up (i.e., damaged ecosystems)
  • Cost is a major issue on projects that are hard to quantify results (e.g., climate change mitigation)
  • Ag sector businesses / farmers / landowners can't always afford what the urbanites feel is required to protect wetland and riparian areas – the costs need to be shared by everyone (i.e., rural and urban)
  • City of Red Deer is doing good work with its Environmental Master Plan including upgrading of water and wastewater treatment, updating of the Waste Management Master Plan . . .
  • Red Deer River Municipal Users Group members need to be part of the IWMP process - best place to get that municipal interaction around watershed planning initiatives (implementation)
  • Setting targets on certain indicators (e.g., limits on growth), would that be something to include in the implementation plan? Answer: Each municipality should set goals and targets specific to their activities in their region
  • Risk of contamination from septic systems – there are updated systems (technology) that haven't yet been accepted by the Province of Alberta (i.e., incorporated into the Building Code). Policy studies need to be done to move this along.
  • How much enforcement happens when incidents are called into Alberta Environment?
  • Concern expressed over the manpower cost of IWMP implementation – “would have to double municipal work force”
  • Subdivision approval process – are new owners even looking at restrictive covenant documents?
  • Recreational uses in the headwaters (e.g., ATVs) need to be addressed
  • Are airborne soil particulates contributing to phosphorus loading – are they being included in the metrics of the IWMP? Answer: Yes.
  • Nutrient loading – separating of manure vs. fertilizer. Answer: Indicator in report only deals with phosphorus in manure, not fertilizers, does not account for excess fertilizer

What are you doing in this area?

  • Restrictive covenants on title – recommend installing riparian fencing and provide subsidy (financing) to land owners as incentive, Land trusts (Mountain View County); have funding for both a voluntary program and restrictive covenant program
  • Off the Creek Program (Red Deer County) – makes funds available (approx $3,000 - $5,000) http://rdcounty.ca/Agriculture/Agriculture-and-Environment/Off-The-Creek
  • Ensure that incentive programs appeal to the landowners (i.e., perceptions)
  • Seeding buffer strips and repairing damaged riparian zones (Kneehill County) – 15 acres seeded initially, then 39 acres this year; a little bit of money (few thousand dollars) can go a long way
  • Vermillion River – a study of municipal policies and programs; completed a fairly intensive survey on what's happening in that watershed, good information to share
  • Concern expressed over available tools to help with the creation and management of Municipal and Environmental Reserves – need more examples of the work of Cows & Fish that can be accepted across the whole region (e.g., BMPs that are easy to use and easy to recognize by landowners); right now some counties looking mostly at AESRD for examples.
  • Current bylaws in place to assist the IWMP:
  • Mountain View County – environmental protection policies (e.g., setbacks)
  • The more rural the area, the less desire there is to uphold environmental enforcement
  • Storm water management plants (natural areas) – relatively new for municipalities

What kinds of tools are missing?

  • Something accepted across the region for Best Management Practices (e.g., Cows & Fish) - typically referenced AE Sustainable Resource Development
  • Every case is site-specific making it hard to create a “blanket measure”
  • Agriculture Operations Protection Act (AOPA) – review for relevant info
  • Municipalities are free to assess their own setbacks that are in accordance with the Municipal Government Act

Next steps
Visit RDRWA website to stay up-to-date on IWMP planning and subscribe to the IWMP Newsletter
Meeting adjourned at 2:30 pm

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