Alberta takes giant steps with new private and public partnerships to help manage water supply



    The launch of the Alberta WaterPortal to help preserve a critical
    resource

    CALGARY, June 11 /CNW/ - The Alberta Society for Sustainable Water
Management and Related Technologies (Alberta WaterSMART) and the Bow River
Basin Council (BRBC) and IBM announced today an important initiative to help
manage the province's water supply - the establishment of a network of
technology, industry, watershed management and funding partnerships to launch
the Alberta WaterPortal (WaterPortal), at www.albertawater.com.
    The Suncor Energy Foundation is providing initial project funding, with
Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies participating as a technology and
content partner.
    "Albertans are asking the province's Watershed Planning and Advisory
Councils to lead the new debate about responsible and sustainable watershed
management," says Bill Berzins, Chair of the Bow River Basin Council. "The
WaterPortal will provide many of the tools needed to support the difficult
decisions we must make."
    Using new open source and web based technologies, the WaterPortal will
enable free and open sharing of data, information, dialogue and knowledge on
ground and surface water conditions, water management policies, best
practices, and conservation initiatives in Alberta and around the world.
    "With the introduction of the WaterPortal, a major goal of Alberta
WaterSMART has been accomplished," says Kim Sturgess, Alberta WaterSMART CEO.
"Once fully operational, it is anticipated that the WaterPortal will provide
free and open access to water information, decision making tools and best
practices for better water management throughout the province."
    Supported by public and private partnerships, the WaterPortal will be
interactive, user-friendly, and encourage dialogue and participation in
managing the province's water resources. Supporting a variety of media formats
including video, photography, blogs and podcasts, and other dialogue tools,
the WaterPortal will shed light on important water issues, connect groups with
individuals, and share insights, new opportunities and best water practices.
    IBM is committed to supporting efforts the province is dedicating to oil
and gas resources, having recently contributed $3.1 million to the creation of
an Oil Sands Centre of Excellence in Calgary. For this phase of the
WaterPortal project, IBM will provide project management and technology
architecture expertise. "Water plays a critical role in oil sands development,
and IBM is committed to working with all stakeholders to enhance access to
information on water quality and quantity while sharing with the industry, the
best practices in managing this critical resource," says Linus Hakimattar,
Director of IBM Oil Sands Centre of Excellence.
    The initial project focus will be in supporting the watershed planning
needs of the Bow River Basin Council, one of the province's Watershed Planning
and Advisory Councils. The BRBC is developing a multi-year plan to manage the
watershed within the basin, and will be using the WaterPortal to solicit input
and feedback from its members living in the region, as well as to share water
information and best practices. Once completed, this online tool will be
available to all other Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils to develop
their watershed plans.
    The WaterPortal will also serve as a valuable water planning and
knowledge sharing tool for many other public and private regional, national
and global environmental organizations including industry, agriculture,
research institutions and environmental groups.





For further information:

For further information: Kim Sturgess, CEO, Alberta WaterSMART,
kim@albertawatersmart.com, (403) 813-6182; Bill Berzins, Chair, Bow River
Basin Council, 300, Atrium VII, 340 Midpark Way S.E., Calgary, Alberta, T2X
1P1; Joanne Fortin, Manager, Communications & PR, IBM CANADA LTEE,
fortin@ca.ibm.com, (514) 964-8558

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ALBERTA WATERSMART

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