More action, focused investment needed to renew Water for Life



    EDMONTON, Jan. 30 /CNW/ - Accelerating action and investment, and taking
stronger, bolder steps to safeguard Alberta's water sources are two key areas
where the government needs to focus its efforts if it wants to renew and
refresh the Water for Life strategy, according to the Alberta Water Council.
    The Council, the multi-stakeholder group established to oversee and
steward the implementation of Water for Life, released a report January 30
outlining recommendations to update the four-year-old provincial water
strategy. The report is in response to Alberta Environment Minister Rob
Renner's request to the Council for input to help fulfill Premier Ed
Stelmach's 2006 mandate to renew and resource the provincial water strategy.
    In its report, the Council states the government has made excellent
progress with some short-term actions to achieve the three outcomes of Water
for Life - safe, secure drinking water; healthy aquatic ecosystems; and
reliable, quality water supply for a prosperous economy. However, more work
needs to be done in all three areas, but especially around safeguarding
Alberta's water supply and aquatic environment.
    "Overall we believe the government deserves credit for undertaking and
defining Water for Life, but now, more than ever, we must be bold and truly
innovative if we are to ensure Alberta's water supply is both safe and
sustainable," said Ron Pearson, a Council member representing non-governmental
organizations, and a member of the Steering Committee for the renewal report.
    "Albertans' expectations for Water for Life are high," said Council
member Kevin Stashin, an industry representative on Council who also served on
the renewal Steering Committee "Focusing resources and putting true 'muscle'
in a few strategic areas is vital if the province wants to advance the
strategy as a whole."
    The Council recommends renewing the strategy around safeguarding the
province's water sources, and increasing the ability of all partners and users
to better manage and conserve water in Alberta. Some specific recommendations
include:

    
    -  Addressing aquatic ecosystem degradation.
    -  Integrating water and land management.
    -  Creating, enhancing and using innovative tools and best practices.
    -  Clarifying roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.
    -  Enhancing data collection, analysis and reporting.
    -  Expanding public awareness programs to build shared commitment.
    

    "Alberta's Water for Life strategy is the foundation for important water
management decisions in our province," said Alberta Environment Minister Rob
Renner in accepting the report. "I am extremely happy with the effort put in
by the Water Council and I look forward to reviewing their recommendations."
    The Council has twice reviewed the government's progress in implementing
Water for Life since the strategy was unveiled in 2003. The 2006 Review Report
served as the starting point for the renewal initiative. To supplement and
validate its 2006 review, the Council invited input from key stakeholders and
the public before preparing the recommendations in its new report.
    A copy of the Council's Water for Life: Recommendations for Renewal,
including a summary of input received through its 2007 consultation with
Albertans, can be found at www.albertawatercouncil.ca

    Established in 2004, the Alberta Water Council is a multi-stakeholder
partnership with 24 members from governments, industry, and non-government
organizations. Its primary task is to monitor and steward implementation of
Alberta's Water for Life strategy and to champion achievement of the
strategy's three outcomes of a safe, secure drinking water supply, healthy
aquatic ecosystems, and reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable
economy.





For further information:

For further information: Gord Edwards, Executive Director, Alberta Water
Council, (780) 644-3771; Cara Van Marck, Communications, Alberta Environment,
(780) 427-6267

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Alberta Water Council

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