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Western premiers eye shared water stewardship

British Columbia will set up a secretariat to develop a Western Water Stewardship Council that in turn may lead to a western drought plan.

“When you consider that the Rocky Mountains are a source of water for B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan and much of the water that flows east is collected in Manitoba, it is important that we have a collective water plan that benefits citizens in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba,” B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said in a release Monday after the Western Premiers’ Conference in Prince Albert, Sask.

The province said a Western Water Stewardship Council would undertake work such as:

  • monitoring and reporting;
  • water supply assessment;
  • demand management;
  • aquatic ecosystem health;
  • education and outreach;
  • watershed planning and governance; and
  • sharing information networks and systems.

The council will also “explore the potential” for developing a western drought preparedness plan, the province said in its release.

Among other initiatives, the western premiers also agreed B.C.’s Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions will establish a national policy network on climate change issues, to report annually to the Western Premiers’ Conference.

The premiers also discussed carbon capture and storage (CCS) pilot projects currently underway in Western Canada and the importance of moving this technology toward commercialization, the province said. “Western premiers will, as a priority, raise the importance of CCS at the upcoming Council of the Federation meeting in July,” the government said.

The premiers also discussed the “importance of rural and remote communities in the economic, social and cultural fabric of Western and Northern Canada,” and those communities’ role in exercising Canadian sovereignty.

For example, they said, improved and expanded transportation infrastructure in rural and remote communities promotes economic development, reduces the cost of living and improves quality of life. The premiers also touched on the need to develop alternative energy sources to reduce dependency on diesel as the “single fuel source” for rural and remote communities.

COPA Medallion COPA finalist in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
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