Industry and Agriculture Consultation Oct 2012 – Feb 2013

The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, with the assistance of outside, independent consultants, is developing a series of four Background Technical Reports, which will provide a foundation of information on which to build the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP). There are four topics in total:

  1. Surface water quality
  2. Wetlands, riparian areas and land use
  3. Groundwater and water quantity
  4. Terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity

The reports feature a letter of transmittal from the Watershed Alliance that sets the context for the work and clearly spells out what was heard during the public and stakeholder consultation process, whether that input was or was not incorporated into the report, and why.

The RDRWA chose to address the surface water quality component of the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) first. It did that through the development of an independently produced report written by limnologist Dr Anne-Marie Anderson (Anderson 2012).

A second Background Technical Report on wetlands, riparian areas and land use was prepared by O2 Planning + Design Inc (O2 Planning + Design Inc Prep). A draft of this report was published on the RDRWA website on November 15, 2012.

During the consultation process for the surface water quality report, industry and agriculture stakeholders were invited to attend forums and workshops with other stakeholder sectors and general public. Turnout of these two sectors at these meetings was often low.

Participants at the agriculture and industry stakeholder workshop in February 2012 indicated that one of the reasons for the low turnout from those sectors was that there was a preference for the Watershed Alliance to come and speak directly to the umbrella organizations of the sectors rather than hold stakeholder workshops and expect organizational representatives or individuals to attend.

Hence, the Watershed Alliance embarked on an approach to industry and agricultural engagement that focused on setting up meetings with organizations in these sectors.

While the rest of the consultation process has tended to coincide with the publication of the Background Technical Reports, the challenges around setting up meetings has meant that industry and agriculture engagement has not necessarily been lined up precisely with the publication of the reports. This is not really an issue because the objectives of the consultation are really much broader than seeking feedback on the background reports.

The industry and agriculture consultation was guided by the following objectives:

  • To explain the Watershed Alliance's watershed planning process
  • To show how industry can get involved in commenting on the process
  • To seek feedback on the first two background Technical Reports (Surface Water Quality; Wetlands, Riparian Areas and Land Use)
  • To find out what initiatives industry is undertaking in the watershed
  • To build partnerships for future implementation of the integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP)

Six meetings were held with industry and agriculture groups:

  • October 2, 2012 – Agri-Environmental Partnership (AEPA); 12 attendees
  • November 28, 2012 – Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP); 6 attendees
  • January 15, 2013 – Chemical Industries; 7 attendees
  • January 16, 2013 – Forest Industries; 9 attendees
  • February 12, 2013 – Central Mountain Action Group (C-MAG) (Synergy Group); 18 attendees
  • February 14, 2013 – Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) (Synergy Group); 20 attendees

Questions and comments at the meetings ranged from general questions about where the Watershed Alliance gets its funding and what its relationship to the other WPACs is, to specific questions about the surface water quality report (chemical industry) and the wetlands, riparian areas and land use report (forest industry).
 

Key recommendations arising from these consultations include:

  • Industry and agriculture sectors should be engaged through a combination of presentation/meetings and workshops.
  • The workshops should be multi-sectoral and located in a number of different locations in the watershed.
  • There is a need to preface these background reports with a document or section that explains watershed planning in the context of environmental risk.
  • Having the author of the technical report at future meetings would be useful so that industry stakeholders can ask detailed questions and more clearly understand the reports.
  • Having other stakeholders present, in a facilitated discussion, might help all stakeholders to better understand some of the different points of view.
  • There is a need to use the online Response Form more for detailed comments on the Background Technical Reports. This could be accomplished in two ways: better promotion of the form through advertising, social media and other channels, and making the form easier, faster and more enjoyable to use

Summary of notes from meetings

General

  • What about First Nations representation on your board right now?
  • How many WPACs are there are in Alberta? 11
  • Spray Lakes has a challenge because there are 6 overlapping watershed and sub-watershed groups (Bow, Old Man, Elbow, Blindman, Jumping pound, to name a few).
  • It was mentioned that North Saskatchewan has completed its watershed plan and Bow River is well into the planning process.
  • The different watershed groups are watching what each other are doing.

Surface Water Quality Report

  • What is the basis for the goal of “maintaining conditions” in the water quality report? AESRD regulatory guidelines and objectives that have to be met
  • Why does the Surface Water Quality Report still say draft? The goals and outcomes are draft and will stay draft, but the report is final
  • Nova Chemicals has a presentation on You Tube that speaks to the usage of water
  • There was a comment that the chemical industry is more regulated than Agriculture

Wetlands, Riparian Areas and Land Use Report

  • Forestry sector wants to ensure the information in the report is accurate
  • Companies practice “management by objective” and have ground rules in place that embody that principle. 70% of the ground rules are very prescriptive and 30% are customized for your operations.
  • The next level of direction for companies comes from their Forest Management Plans (FMP). Both companies are in the midst of redoing their Forest Management Plans — 20-year, 5-year and annual
  • Linear Disturbance Thresholds – which threshold do we follow? It depends which report you are reading because they are all different. There are recommended thresholds in the grizzly bear plan that companies follow. There are different numbers for buffers, and these numbers are not right in this report.
  • There are problems with the tone of this report that forestry is going to cause a lot of damage (risk of damage) to water quality.
  • The industry is heavily regulated and perception of risk is problematic. It needs to be mentioned that water coming from the Forest Reserve is still of high quality and there should be recognition of this. Forested lands have a filtering capacity.
  • Needs to be clarity around the generalizations in the report. Slash burning and log sorting are not done in Alberta. (Note further conversations revealed that slash burning in situ all across the cut block is not done but piles of slash are burned along the road or in the case of Spray Lake in discrete piles throughout the cut block.)
  • This report makes reference to the headwaters being a fragile environment. The watershed groups are always recommending that the headwaters need to be protected – the forestry sector is questioning why?
  • There is too much focus on the forest industry.
  • A discussion of riparian areas needs to look at different parts of the watershed differently. Loss of cottonwoods in the Riparian area in the grasslands is important. Provincial ground rules for forestry are 60 metres from large watercourses and 30 m from small streams.
  • If we leave fixed-width buffers, we can end up with old forests along the stream bank. How do we get new forests in these areas?
  • There is a comment around clear cutting and it makes it seem like a bad thing. Why is clear-cutting being picked on? It is mimicking/simulating natural disturbances and it leaves lots of woody debris behind.
  • The report only talks about forestry roads and hydraulic leaks from forestry equipment not about other roads and leaks from other sectors.
  • Section 2.5.1 Don’t like forestry referred as potential new risk area
  • Wetlands 3.2.4 – Forestry operations and the headwaters as a risk – what is the report referring to?
  • The wetlands will never be harvested through forestry.
  • There was some discussion about hazard and risk. How do people interpret these words?
  • ATV use has skyrocketed. Need to look at other parks besides large ones — provincial recreation areas, municipal parks, etc.
  • Coal leases are increasing in the area that Sundre Forest products covers and there is no mention of mining in this report.
  • 5.5.4 Fitsimmonds – does not say, that road densities cause problems for grizzlies.
  • 5.6.4.5 – Why single out forestry on regs?
  • There are different certification schemes not just one. CSA is not the preferred one. The wording has to be looked at carefully.
  • Align the road targets and buffer targets to what is currently out there. Pre-amble just before the table under Land Use section p.79. High road density does not kill bears (needs to be removed).
  • 4.2.2.2 – Picture has changed since it was taken even.
  • Page 86 – Makes a comment only about forestry.
  • Should look at agriculture more instead of forestry because forestry is a renewable resource.
  • Banff National Park has a prescribed burn plan and does not leave any buffers around waterways. Province does prescribed burns too. Companies do not.
  • Terri Miller, the Bylaw Officer in Clearwater County has a great presentation on impacts of recreational users of the headwaters

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