The Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance will continue to see funding from the provincial government this year, but it’s unclear yet just how much. The council is one of 11 the province has committed to giving $3.2 million in grants for each of the next three years.
In addition to some funds carried over from 2015, the local group received $265,000 last year. That added up to just over $400,000, which is what Executive Director Rhonda Clarke-Gauthier says they asked for this time around.
“That would ensure that we could do the nine project areas that we want to accomplish over the next couple of years, as well ensure that we can have a more robust programming for education, outreach, and awareness.”
For the last couple of years, the watershed alliance has offered education workshops on topics like source water protection and invasive species. A large amount of their work is also helping communities create plans to try to protection their water resources.
They’re working on a Wapiti River Water Management Plan, as well as restoration projects for the Heart River and Redwillow watersheds. Their biggest focus is on an Integrated Watershed Management Plan, which looks at how the region shares its water resources.
“We’re taking a look at all those things that happen on the landscape as we live, work, and play here, and how that affects water quality and quantity,” explains Clarke-Gauthier. “What are the steps that we can do to minimize damage and make sure that we have safe drinking water.”
They also look at keeping ecosystems healthy so they can be used for recreation and have enough water for future needs. The watershed they oversee encompasses more than 30 per cent of Alberta’s landscape.
If the Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance doesn’t get all of the funding it’s hoping for, some of those projects will have to wait, or they’ll need to find other stakeholders to support the work. Regardless of the amount, Clarke-Gauthier says she’s happy to see the government continue to support the Water for Life strategy created in 2003.
“This strategy identifies the importance of making sure we have safe, secure drinking water, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and reliable sources of water for economic development and sustainability. Making sure that that happens is essential for how we live here in Alberta.”
Last year the specific funding amount wasn’t announced by the government until August, but the council found out earlier in the year. The organization is a multi-stakeholder, not-for-profit organization with representatives from all levels of government, to First Nations and industry.