- Response from Dustin Duncan, Minister of Environment RE Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention
- YANCOAL CANADA – Environmental Impact Study
- MINISTER COX – RE: Environmental Impact Assessment: Yancoal Southey Project – PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
- Zebra Mussels And The Potential Threat To Our Lakes
- Railroad Ties and the impact they have on our environment
- Septic Tank Users
- Water Saving Tips
- Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
The Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards – Looking out for our Water Supply Updated May 19, 2015
The Lower Qu’Appelle River Watershed is comprised of the downstream half of the Qu’Appelle River Basin. It covers an area of about 17,800 square kilometres in southeastern Saskatchewan and includes six major lakes – Pasqua, Echo, Mission, Katepwa, Crooked, and Round.
One of the organizations tasked with monitoring and overseeing this watershed is the Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards Inc. (LQWS). This non-profit organization has existed as a committee since 2010 and was incorporated as a non-profit in 2013. Funding is derived from grants and membership fees. The LQWS is one 11 such stewardships in the province. Membership is open to Rural Municipalities, towns, villages, First Nation communities, agricultural producers and individuals. The vision of the organization is a long-term, stable, high-quality water supply for people and for the environment. Water quality in the Lower Qu’Appelle Lakes will be able to support recreation, fishing and economic development within the ecological limits of the system.
Alice Davis, has been with the LQWS since 2010, as a committee member, board member and, more recently, as the LQWS manager. She is justifiably proud of what the LQWS has been able to accomplish during it’s short life-span. Highlights include:
- A pilot sewage survey in the District of Katepwa – completed resident surveys will be used to inform the public about the standards for private sewage systems and whether their systems meet those standards. It is hoped that other communities will participate in future surveys, helping to reduce the amount of sewage and gray water being released into the lakes.
- Working with youth – the LQWS sponsor a poster contest each year aimed at grades 5, 6 and 7. This year the theme is “Water and Wildlife”. Cash prizes will be awarded, with the first place winner entered into the provincial prize draw of a $1,000 prize package. In 2014 a Class in Grass education event was held for grade six and seven students from Kelliher and the Muskowekan schools. It is anticipated that more Class in Grass events will be held in the fall of 2015.
- The Wetlands Restoration Project – a partnership involving three other area Watersheds as well as Ducks Unlimited and the Saskatchewan Water Association with funding from Environment Canada’s National Wetland Conservation Fund. Wetlands will be restored using earthen plugs. Landowners will sign a 10 year agreement to keep the restored wetlands in place. It is hoped that 10 wetland restorations, including an estimated 40 acres of restored wetlands, will be constructed over the span of the agreement.
- Monitoring invasive species – This summer watersheds will deliver the Saskatchewan Adult Invasive Mussel Monitoring (AIMM), Co-ordinated by the Saskatchewan Fisheries Unit in partnership with non-government agencies. Of particular concern are the Zebra and Quagga Mussels. All Watershed managers will receive training in counting numbers of these invasive species and will have the means to engage the public and assist in education and awareness. Work is being done with invasive plant species as well, through work with the RM’s and SARM.
- Additional work with agricultural producers – The Calling Lakes Farm Stewardship Group delivers the Agri- Environmental Program and the Farm Stewardship programs. In 2014/2015 $364,865 worth of projects were completed, with $189,493 eligible to be returned to producers. Program dollars will continue to be focused on projects that have a direct impact on surface water.
Anyone wishing to learn more about the Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards, or get more information about their many great projects, can find their website at www.lqws.ca. They are also on Facebook – search for Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed, and on Twitter at LQWSESTERHAZY.
Environmental Science Students to Collect Data on Health of the Calling Lakes
Bert Fox Community High School Science teacher Phil Langford hopes his students will become critical consumers of science. To that end he will be leading his Grade 11 Environmental Science students out to the lakes in the fall to collect data for the Calling Lakes Eco Museum project. While details are still being fleshed out, Langford hopes this will be the start of an annual process of data collection. This data will be made available to the Eco Museum project and may be used to inform those who make decisions impacting the Qu’Appelle Valley watershed.
The project will initially involve approximately 24 Grade 11 students. There may be an opportunity for other students in grades 8, 10 and 11 to become involved as the project progresses. As part of their class lab work, the students will collect data such as species numbers and diversity, levels of dissolved oxygen and pH levels in the water, along with other markers that may be identified by the Eco Museum. Data collection will focus on the riparian areas of Katepwa, Mission, Echo and Pasqua Lakes. The riparian area is of particular interest because it is accessible to the students for data collection, and because it is an area of great importance to home/cottage owners along the shorelines of the lakes.
Continuing to collect data in subsequent years will help to identify patterns over time. While the data is being collected for the Eco museum, Langford notes he would be open to collecting data for other groups as well.
Langford hopes that this student-generated data will be influential in the daily lives of those living in the Qu’Appelle Valley, and to those who set policies concerning watershed use (including policies regarding effluent flow into the lakes). As for the students themselves, Langford hopes they will learn the skills involved in collecting specific pieces of data and to view that data without judgement. Perhaps even more importantly he hopes they will develop a lifelong concern for the subject area, using data to inform and elicit change.
He feels that some of the students, particularly those that live on the lakes, are concerned about the quality of the water, but he says that we live in an age of easy consumerism. Many of the students have an idea that someone else will fix the problem. He hopes that this project will help them understand they can be a part of the solution – that the data they collect can have a meaningful impact.
Langford credits his inspiration for the project to a presentation he attended at a teachers’ workshop at the Barrier Lake research station in Kananaskis, Alberta. There he learned of a project where farmers in the Calgary area were given equipment and asked to collect data on their well water. The goal was to measure the impact of the growth of the city of Calgary on the groundwater in surrounding areas. Part of a growing “citizen science” movement, the project showed that meaningful and useful data could be collected by lay people. Langford would like to carry this concept into his classroom and out into his riparian laboratory.
Langford hopes to connect his project to the United Nations Youth Sustainability Summit through Lyle Benko, an environmental activist and professor at the University of Regina. This group provides education and awards for youth groups working on sustainable projects.
While the data will be collected by the students as part of the school science curriculum, Langford notes that students may need help from the Eco Museum in terms of fundraising, transportation or other support. In turn, the Eco Museum will have input into some of the data being collected. The project will ultimately have positive benefits for both groups. This is definitely a project worth watching. It is a great example of diverse segments of the community coming together for a common goal. For more information, contact Phil Langford at Bert Fox Community High School in Fort Qu’appelle 306-332-4343 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Updated May 19, 2015
March 2015 Message from the Friends of Katepwa Park
Report – Friends of the Katepwa Provincial Park.
We are excited to share with you that this summer our first donation will be made to the Katepwa Provincial Park. Last summer we held a festival called PerchFest and we raised $1000. We are working with Dallas Chorneyko at the Park and the money will be used to begin the process of repairing the riparian area.
The Riparian area is the native trees along the creeks and on the point that help to polish the surface water before it enters our lake. At our AGM last June we decided as a group that the water quality is very important to the Park. We will be holding our second AGM in June of this year – watch for our posters.
We have a kindness to ask you. We would like to share with you that the Park as with many other Provincial agencies has been put on a spending freeze.
The Park has chosen to use Loraas Disposal bins to keep our Park clean. We have noticed that the bins have been filling up with garage that is not from the Park. Here is our kindness to ask you – please care for our Park and insure your private garage is managed so as not to put additional stress on our Park.
Aura Lee MacPherson
Chair of the Friends of the Katepwa Provincial Park.
November 14 UPDATE congratulations…
The File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council along with Calling Lakes District Planning Commission are delighted to announce that our work in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Ecomuseums Initiative has received international recognition. The Saskatchewan Ecomuseum Initiative was recognized by the United Nations University as an outstanding Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) flagship project in the category of “Bridging Local Knowledge and Global Perspectives on Sustainable Development”.
The project was recognized in Okayama, Japan at a meeting of over 150 international delegates including over 70 Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development as well as representatives from UNESCO and other UN Agencies. Projects were ranked as worthy of an honourary mention, worthy of recognition as a Multistakeholder RCE Project, or worthy of recognition as an Outstanding RCE Flagship Project. The Ecomuseum Initiative received the highest level of recognition.
This is indeed a great honour and congratulations and thanks go out to everyone who has been involved in the Ecomuseum project. This award confirms that we are moving forward in a way that is likely to have a significant and sustainable impact on the Calling Lakes area.
November 6 2014 Update
Report to the Calling Lakes District Planning Commission
Work Done to date by the working committee:
1. We have organized a working group to address the Water Quality/quantity issues. This working group consists of the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, the Calling Lakes District Planning Commission and Friends of the Katepwa Park. The design of this working group was based on Heritage of Canada’s successful sustainable community development model.
2. We have organized a meeting for the community on Aug 20th at the Treaty Four Governance Centre. We had planned for 100 people to attend and over 220 people were in attendance. Action plan for that meeting was to have concerned residents send a letter to Premier Brad Wall.
3. We have met (Ken Hutchinson, Jim Harding, Lee, Garth Gish and Aura Lee MacPherson) with the Lower Qu’Appelle Water Shed Stewards on Oct 24th. Action Plan – work with LQWS to develop an communication strategy, Stepanie Peesker, Water Shed coordinator will attend the Calling Lakes meetings on a go forward bases and we shared with them we not happy with another study.
4. We have written to the Editor of the Leader Post. We expressed our concern about the just under 1 million cubic meters of partially and raw sewage that the Department of Environment permitted the City Of Regina to bypass did have an affect us. (28 beaches were closed in the Valley due to high levels of E coli, our fish and animals swam in pollution and our business community lost revenue.)
5. We have met with the University of Regina – Dr Mary Vetters. A class at the University has been design to study the work we have done to date and to share what future direction we should take. The students will be presenting their findings the first week of Dec in Fort.
6. We have contacted Dr Leavitt and he has agreed to attend any future meetings we hold and he will attend at no charge if his schedule permits.
7. We have been contacted by an Environmental Engineer who would like to be part of the solution and help where she can. She attended the Aug 20th meeting and has a cottage at Pasqua Lake.
8. We have been contacted by a communication specialist who would like to be part of the solution and help with video and written communication.
9. We have started the process of meeting with each town, resort community and possibly each band office to share the work done to date. Widening our circle of inclusion.
11. We have contacted the Executive Director for the Lake Friendly Accord – Colleen Sklar. Colleen told us that we are very much a very good path and the next thing we need to work on is goals and objectives – she encouraged us to hire the best facilitator we can afford.
12. We have been contacted by Ducks Unlimited and are on their email list for open communication.
13. We have requested the attendance of Minister of Environment Scott Moe for our next open public meeting. The request was sent Sept 17 and Oct 22 they sent an email stating they would not attend a public meeting and suggested a private meeting with a select few. We have decided to continue with our open meetings and note that Scoot Moe was invited.
14. We have shared with the Branding committee how very important their work is to cleaning up our Lakes. Branding will have a big impact on how we communicate the good news to our community ie signage, videos and educational material
15. We have been contacted by several cottage owners who are very interested in helping. They are sending letters to friends asking them to phone their councillor’s in Regina and share their concern about the recent bypass and review the new sewage treatment plant.
16. Lastly we have learned that our water is very sick and it is going to get worse before it gets better.( Dr P Leavitt) The lake has to have time to clean itself. We are on the right path – good work all.
October 10 – Update
The City of Regina is building a new treatment plant – which is very good news for us. The Leader Post reported in the Friday Sept. 26 edition that the director of water works, Pat Wilson stated “the department is tweaking its drainage master plan based on the summer’s floods. About $8 million is already allocated to this work.”
We want to make sure that the “tweaking” is based on sound sustainable design. And here is where we need your help. We are planning to attend a council meeting with the City of Regina. We are asking those who care about the Qu’Appelle water shed and are Regina voters to contact their councillor. We have prepared a list of questions for you to ask. Click here to see the list of questions. The more councillors that are phoned the better chance we have of creating a health relationship with the City of Regina.
Sincerely Aura Lee
Open Letter To Saskatchewan Water Security Agency
Where/What is your Plan?
It has recently come to the attention of the Calling Lakes Commission that there exists a serious, some even say catastrophic potential flooding problem in the Quill Lakes. An article that appeared in the Wynyard Advance stated:
“The Quill Lakes water shed area formerly known as a dead end, no outlet system, is about to merge 2.1 million acres of run off land to the already troubled Qu’Appelle and Assiniboine river systems. The article went on to state that we are less than one year away from possible catastrophic downstream flooding.”
The article in the Advance further stated The Quill Lakes have risen 6.5 metres in 10 years and are only 1.2 metres from overflow. One wet season, combined with up to one half metre wind surges that this lake can produce, and the lake will be heading downstream uncontrolled.
Once becoming aware of this potential problem, the Calling Lakes District Planning Commission’s immediate concerns were:
(a) With the volume of water contemplated, what would the extent of the flooding be in the Calling Lakes.
(b) As Quill Lakes is salt water, does Water Security not have concerns about salt water entering our fresh water lakes system?
(c) What current action is being taken by our provincial government to deal with the problem?
Scott Moe’s office (the Minister in charge of Water Security) was contacted by the Calling Lakes Planning District Commission unfortunately we were unable to speak to the Minister himself. However, a response was received from a regional representative of Water Security. He stated:
(a) There is no real plan to deal with the problem
(b) Water Security was hoping that the water wouldn’t go higher, and
(c) If the water did go higher and breaches its banks, it would be of such volume that it would dilute the salt content of the Quill Lakes.
Is this a plan? The Calling Lakes District Planning Commission thinks not. A do nothing approach is not an option.
So where do we go from here?
Ken Hutchinson, Chair
Calling Lakes Planning District Commission
October 2, 2014 update on behalf of Friends of Katepwa
Calling on all Citizens who Care about the Qu’Appelle Valley.
We have a serious, terminal illness that MUST be stopped and STOPPED from spreading NOW….not tomorrow. A terrible disease is going on.
Pasqua Lake is already on life support. Echo Lake is in the Intensive Care Unit. Mission and Katepwa Lakes are in the Emergency Department and these dirty waters are spreading fast towards Round Lake and Crooked Lake. Each one of us is needed to come together right now. We can not afford to waste another moment.
“TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE”.
On August 20th , 2014 over 200 concerned citizens met at Treaty Four Governance Centre Tipi asking “Can we make a difference? “ The answer is simple. You bet we can and we will, but time is of the essence. Let the future not talk about how we all went home and did nothing. This would be a travesty for future generations to come.
TOGETHER, we can do anything but the critical time to act is NOW. When the cause is right and we are motivated, we can do anything. We dream about cleaner water with no big mucks of algae blooms poisoning our water. We MUST dream about cleaner water with 0 health advisories that we can not swim in our lakes because of sewer contamination. We do CARE about our children and grandchildren experiencing living water in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Together, we CAN make cleaner, safer water a reality. Together we can make a big difference. Together is the ONLY way we can do that.
We want history to show that our stewardship resulted in positive change for our future generations. I encourage you to go to the lakefriendly.ca web site and see what the Manitoba collaborative is doing with Lake Winnipeg. The good news is, we do not need to re-invent this wheel breeding success….we just need to partner with our friends in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to grow our concern and stewardship for improving our prairie water, TOGETHER. Manitoba’s motto towards cleaner water is “TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE”. Lets adopt the same agenda.
If we each devote two hours a month, we can get everyone pulling for the same outcome: HEALTHY, LIVING WATER.
Thank you to all who wrote letters of concern to our provincial governments. We are getting a response from those letters. Now we MUST increase our momentum TOGETHER. Don’t let Pogo be right when he said “We looked for the enemy and it was us”. Action is both needed and appreciated. Thanks again.
September 25, 2014
The good news is the letters we sent to Premier Brad Wall are working. Last night at the Calling Lakes District Planning Commission meeting, we learned that the Lower Qu’Appelle Water Shed wants to meet with us. This is really really good news and we want to thank you so much. This meeting is a result because you cared. Keep up the good work and tell all your friends who also sent a letter in.
Sincerely Aura Lee
September 18, 2014
Water Quality Update
On September 17, 2014, the Friends of Katepwa Provincial Park, Calling Lakes Planning Commission, Fort San’s mayor Jim Harding, File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council and Randy Durovick from Crooked and Round Lake Flood Committee met to further discuss the next steps to take on protecting and restoring the Qu’Appelle Watershed. This builds upon the August 20, 2014 public forum on water quality that took place with a panel of speakers that discussed the continuing and emerging crisis that is being faced by the watershed. This public forum was very well attended with over 200 concerned citizens.
Based on the feedback since the forum, the group has started to partner with University of Regina to find doable and practical solutions that can be done by all to help with the water quality. In addition, the group is also planning the next meeting for October. This upcoming session will invite the government to talk with the citizens about water quality and quantity and to open it up for their questions. Invited are Scott Moe, Minister of Environment, and the Water Security Agency and Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards, as well as the Premier of Manitoba.
Finally, the Friends of Katepwa Provincial Park are planning to meet with the City of Regina to discuss their actions on water that affect the Qu’Appelle Watershed. Namely, the possible cost-effective ways to mitigate further pollution, which is timely with the new system that is being undertaken by Regina.
For more information on the activities being undertaken, upcoming events, and to help with the effort to increase our water quality and quantity, see: www.4CallingLakes.ca/regional/environment.
September 3, 2014
A message from Aura Lee MacPherson Water Quality
In the evening of August 20th, we held our first water quality meeting at the Treaty 4 Governance Centre Tipi. This was a collaborative meeting of the Calling Lakes Planning District, Friends of the Katepwa Provincial Park and File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council.
We had planned for 100 people to attend the meeting, but far exceeded that number with over 225 in attendance. The meeting was designed to allow those interested in the quality of the water to ask questions. We had the very best involved on the panel – concerned and informed leaders, scientists and social scientists to answer questions. The idea was to begin the process of educating ourselves to become active and part of the solution.
Our first goal is to ask the Saskatchewan Government to care and take action. We have written a letter as a start and it can be found at the Calling Lakes website at their environment page (http://www.4callinglakes.ca/regional/environment). We are asking everyone to print off this letter or create your own and mail it to Premier Brad Wall. The Calling Lakes website (www.4callinglakes.ca/region/enviroment) is going to be used as a clearing house and will be posting articles for you to read, information on upcoming meetings and other items of interest on water quality. This web site will be where you can educate yourself and become part of the solution. This brings us to our second goal – to organize ourselves into action. The lakes do not have time for us to reinvent the wheel – we need to know what talent we have that can help us take action too.
We are looking for all of us to help, e.g. Scientists who can help us read and understand the studies, artists who are creative thinkers, photographers who can record the changes happening to our lakes, etc. We are asking that you go the website and email us to share your talent.There is a lot of work to be done (which I am not afraid of) and if we work together and laugh a bit, nothing is impossible. I am doing this because I believe that the water quality of our lakes is tied to our future – our kids – and it is worth it do something now.
Sincerely Aura Lee chair of the Friends of Katepwa Provincial Park.
September 2, 2014
Click Here to see a very informational website for Lake Friendly options.
The committee for the Water Quality are planning another informational meeting coming soon!
August 21, 2014
Friends of Katepwa, CLPC and File Hills Tribal Council did an outstanding job last night. There was over 200 people present for the Water Quality Meeting. For everyone who came out THANK YOU!
Pasqua First Nation Chief Todd Peigan and coordinator Auralee MacPherson spoke of a powerpoint about how the water flows. To view this click here
Today is a big day for the water quality of our surrounding 4 lakes, Pasqua, Echo, Mission and Katepwa. File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council with Friends of Katepwa Provinical Park are hosting a Water Quality Meeting at the Treaty 4 Governance Centre 7:00 pm.
The forum will be a question and answer period that will run one hour then a summary for 15 minutes. Guest speakers are Jim Harding, Mayor of the Resort Village of Fort San; Chief Todd Peigan of the Pasqua Firtst Nation; Dr. Peter LEavitt, professor from the University of Regina; Dawn Pratt, a scientist with extensive knowledge about water tests and testing; and Ken Hutchinson from the RM of North Qu’Appelle chair of the Calling Lakes Planning Commission.
Please come to get informed of the quality of our 4 Calling Lakes to see what we as individuals can do.
July 5, 2014
The Calling Lakes are polluted. The fact was substantiated through a study done for the Federal Government in 2011. The results of the study, as summarized in the Leader Post in 2011 stated “Wascana Creek is one of the most polluted creeks in the country.” The study went on to state that the concentrations of un-ionized ammonia far exceeds Canadian and U.S. water quality guidelines. Wascana Creek is an ecosystem at risk. Why this is important to us in the Valley is that Wascana Creek flows into the Qu’Appelle River Which in turn flows into the Calling Lakes.
Wascana Creek is almost entirely fed by treated sewage from the City of Regina. The City of Regina knows its nitrogen levels are extremely high and is causing a degradation of downstream lakes. The problems with the nitrogen is when it is received by the lake, the algae becomes toxic as a result of the exposure to nitrogen. Not only do we get more algae, the algae we get is toxic. Pasqua Lake, for example, has 10 times more nutrients that the Great Lakes when they were pronounced dead in the 1960’s and 70’s.
In fairness to the City of Regina (the major pollutant of the Wascana Creek), they are meeting the requirements of the federal and provincial government. The problem is that government set the minimum standard – a standard that allows for continued pollution. The CLDPC has asked the city and government to insure that as close as possible, the waste water coming out of Regina be as clean of pollutants as the water going into it from the Qu’Appelle. The CLDPC realizes that not all pollution that contributes to the toxic algae in the Calling Lakes is a result of sewage effluents. There are other effluents, and if we have the will we can do something about it.
CLDPC has asked government, both at the provincial as well as the Federal level, to take the lead in dealing with this problem; our Commission has neither the expertise nor resources to talk the problem ourselves. We need strategies that will lead to significantly reducing the pollution as well as to begin the cleanup operation. Biologists tell us algae is cumulative, each year the bloom sinks to the bottom of the lakes and the next year added nutrients from the upstream pollutants makes the algae worse. So we, along these ales, can expect the problem to worsen as time goes by. What commitment did we get form government? The only commitment we have from government at this stage is that they support a 3-year study by the Water Security Agency in order to better define the overall sources of nutrients that support algae growth. Although a study may be important; we already know that the sewage effluent from Regina is a major contributor to the pollutants in our lakes. Do we have to wait 3 years before we deal with that part of the problem?
The CLDPC was anticipating far more leadership from government as we were hoping for a plan of action that would commence sooner than 3 years from now.
The passion for cooperating and working together stems from two common goals- the sustainability of the environment and the beauty of the valley. The magnificence of the lakes is why many of the residents have chosen the area as their home and why many businesses have decided to locate in the area. Without the lakes many of the functions of the valley would not be able to endure. Through the District Plan the Commission hopes to achieve the vision of 4 lakes, 4 seasons, 4 everyone. Like most lake and valley regions, there are challenges when mixing nature and development such as slope instability, flooding and slumping. The District Plan will outline the natural limitation for these lands and establish requirements for development surrounding these areas.
The sustainability of the environment and the beauty of the valley is the reason the planning district was formed and it is why each planning commission member is passionate about attending the planning district meetings.
The beauty of the lakes is why many of the residents have chosen the district as their home and why many businesses have decided to locate within the district. Without the lakes many of the functions of the valley would not be able to survive.
The district is home to an abundance of wildberry bushes, grasslands, wetlands and wildlife such as deer, moose, fish, birds, foxes, racoons, beavers, minks, coyotes which residents and visitors enjoy having as part of the valley backdrop.
It is very important to the planning district that the lakes and the environmental integrity of the valley remain the focus of citizens and business owners. Through the district official community plan the district hopes to achieve the vision of “4 lakes, 4 seasons, 4 everyone”.
The district does have the disadvantage of having some natural hazards that are typically associated with lakes and valleys. These include: flooding, pollution of lakes, slope instability, slumping and degradation of valley topography over time.
Through cooperation, regular maintenance, proper building regulations, and waste management strategies the planning district hopes to reduce the number of residences and businesses affected by these natural hazards.
The Planning District Commission works with Sask Water and The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority to ensure that they are educated and aware of all water related issues that are impacting the wellbeing of the district.
Reports regarding water issues will be posted when they are available.
What are riparian areas, and why are they important?
Riparian areas are the lush strips of land adjacent to lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Native riparian plants include sedge, cattail, willow, cottonwood, and poplar. Most native riparian plants have deep roots that protect shorelines from erosion. They resist the flow of floodwaters, giving the water more time to infiltrate the soil and be stored for use by plants, or recharge groundwater supplies. Native riparian vegetation is like nature’s water filter: it improves water quality by trapping sediment, nutrients, and pollutants from surface runoff before they reach the water and downstream water users, or enter the water table.
Many human activities add nitrogen and phosphorus to water runoff. Urban development, agricultural uses, and low density suburbs served by septic systems all increase nitrogen and/or phosphorus loading. Fertilized lawns are one of the highest contributors. The cumulative effect can exceed a water body’s capacity to absorb nutrients. For example, one kilogram of phosphorus can spark the growth of 500 kilograms of algae in a lake. Excessive algal blooms can decrease water quality for domestic and agricultural use, cause the loss of fish populations, make water-based recreation unappealing, and even cause human health problems. Riparian areas help to filter nutrients out of runoff water, and remove them from groundwater via uptake in riparian vegetation.
Source: Lacombe County, Planning and Development: http://www.lacombecounty.com/index.php?option=comcontent&view=article&id=623:june-2012-riparian-areas&catid=187:planning-a-development-faq&Itemid=268
Planning For The Future
The district planning commission has the goal of the district being managed appropriately so that there are little to no environmental disruptions and pollution effects. This is done be preserving valley walls and trying to clean up the lakes. Riparian planning will be encouraged.
- To ensure that future development does not have a negative impact on the water quality, environmental resources and sensitive areas within and surrounding the Valley and Lakes.
- To ensure that development does not occur on potentially hazardous lands without adhering to appropriate development standards and mitigation measures.
- To improve, restore and maintain the water quality of the Lakes.
- To extend the responsibility for sound environmental management to property owners and developers.
- To minimize the disturbance on the natural features of the Valley walls/banks when development takes place.
- To consider the visual impact and aesthetics of the Valley when planning and development takes place.
- Development shall not deplete or pollute the lakes and water in the Valley.
- If appropriate mitigation measures cannot be achieved, development shall avoid land that is potentially hazardous due to flooding, erosion and slumping or slope instability or any other environmental hazard.
- Each Municipality within the Calling Lakes Planning District will designate environmentally sensitive areas within their individual zoning bylaws and will create a buffer around valley and riparian areas by creating consistent setback requirements to limit or restrict development in these areas.
- Each member Municipality within the Calling Lakes District Planning Commission will designate areas with potentially hazardous site conditions such as flooding, slope instability, erosion, etc. as Hazard Land within their individual Zoning Bylaw.
- Where a development or subdivision is proposed on lands that are designated as hazard or what may be suspected as hazardous lands the developer shall submit a study and/or report prepared by a qualified professional. The study and/or report will include the process, method of testing, number of test holes and outputs of the assessment. The study and/or report will assess environmental hazards such as:
- Geotechnical suitability of the site which includes the susceptibility to flooding, slumping and slope instability and the degradation of the valley topography over time;
- Drainage, storm water run-off and possible pollution; and
- Include any other impact that the development may cause on the natural environment along with recommended mitigation measures.
- Each zoning bylaw will contain development standards for development on or near hazard lands including flood proofing. The Calling Lakes Planning District Commission will work with government and non-government organizations, agencies and other communities to improve the water quality of the lakes. During the subdivision process where environmentally sensitive areas may be suspected, the Municipality may designate the lands as environmental reserve during the subdivision process. A preliminary analysis by a qualified professional may be required by the developer prior to the approval of any development to identify which hazards may exist in the area of a proposed development. Cutting into the hillsides or valley walls will be restricted.