Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership Advances Relationship with British Columbia
The Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership (ALIDP) continues to make progress in defining how the Province”s Water for Life vision will be translated into actions on the ground. At its April 2006 stakeholder meeting, ALIDP continued its discussions with British Columbia regarding the elements of an inter-provincial partnership.
Many communities in Alberta are trying to balance the pressures of rapid growth against the desire for creating more sustainable land use planning and watershed management practices. Under the Alberta Provincial Water For Life Strategy, municipalities and other sectors are being challenged to live within the carrying capacity of their local watersheds. Finding a common land use planning and water management model that can be easily accessed and applied to share information and results, and which that will lead to developing more sustainable watershed management practices, has been one of the biggest challenges facing urban planners and engineers.
Sustainable Water Management
According to Liliana Bozic, ALIDP Co-Chair, 'We like the British Columbia approach where the Water Sustainability Committee serves as a roundtable for partnerships. They have spearheaded development of specific tools such as the Water Balance Model and the WaterBucket Website that have either gone national or are going national. We are beginning to see that the ALIDP could fill a similar roundtable role in Alberta.' Seeking to ensure that sustainable water management is a priority in Alberta and integrated into urban land use policies and planning, the ALIDP has successfully brought together representatives for local and provincial governments, the development industry, private consultants and non-government organizations to collectively lead in the decision making of how the Water Balance Model tool can be made available for use across Alberta.
Attending the April 2006 meeting were Ted van der Gulik (see photo opposite), Vice-Chair of the British Columbia Water Sustainability Committee and Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership (IGP) that developed the Water Balance Model; and Kim Stephens (see photo below), Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. They did an online demonstration of both the WaterBucket and the Water Balance Model websites. This offered the group opportunities to identify linkages and information that can be further be explored and applied within an Alberta context. With a successful framework for information and data sharing already in place, Alberta will be able to fast track some of its public information and outreach goals to a broader audience. Allowing the ALIDP to focus on engaging stakeholders and building capacity, to ensure on the ground examples of the Water Balance Model can be created to demonstrate how this kind of water management planning can lead to healthier more sustainable watersheds.
According to Councillor Laurie Hodson of the Town of Okotoks, who participated in the joint session, 'I really enjoyed hearing about what British Columbia is doing. Ted and Kim explained things in a way that was understandable and exciting. As an elected official, I am left asking why aren”t we in Alberta doing what BC is doing?'
Wendy Aupers, spokesperson for the ALIDP education and outreach working group, agrees with this assessment. 'This is an exciting community water management planning tool that can be easily implemented to help deal with wise and responsible water use at the municipal level. It allows municipal land use planning to prevent water loving and water shedding homes and neighbourhoods from being built in the first place. Even better is the fact that developers and municipalities can easily access and share a common modelling tool and data which encourage a two-way dialogue around technical information that is required for approvals.
“Information can be easily understood, which helps elected officials in addressing policy issues and the decision making process and reducing some of the delays often associated with water management and land use planning. The results of this type of community planning allows homeowners to enjoy a high quality of life while conserving natural resources and contributing to preserving and protecting their local watersheds”, added Aupers, who has worked extensively with communities to engage elected officials and residents in water management and water conservation strategies.
“The next steps for this inter-provincial partnership will be to focus on how the Water Balance Model can be implemented in Alberta. In response to suggestions by the ALIDP that there is a parallel need for enhanced detailed design tools, the IGP has completed the initial work to incorporate a greatly enhanced version of the well-known QUALHYMO rainfall-runoff simulation model within the existing Water Balance Model. The IGP is working with Alberta to obtain funding to complete this component of the model. At the same time, the ALIDP will also continue working with local and provincial government representatives, developers and water management consultants in profiling the Water Balance Model in Alberta and seeking partnership members and funding to ensure this planning tool becomes a successful addition to land use planning strategies in Alberta”, concluded Liliana Bozic.
For More Information Contact: Wendy Aupers, ALIDP Outreach and Education Working Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org
First posted on www.waterbalance.ca in April 2006