Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: there must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.
– Frank Wilhoit
Think Alberta regulators and politicians will protect drinking water for millions from Australian coal miners? Alberta Environment was the official regulator of water use and contamination by industry when Encana/Ovintiv’s illegally frac’d my community’s drinking water aquifers. Harmed citizens asked the regulator for help. Alberta Environment told us to call AER; we called AER and were told to call Alberta Environment. The regulators bounced us back and forth like this, covered-up the corporate crimes, toxic contamination and life-threatening “water” explosions, while AER issued ever more permits to the law violating frac’ers.
Up north, near Spirit River, rancher Bruce Jack also called the regulators for help. He called AER (then EUB) first:
EUB: “We respond to 100% of complaints.”
CBC Narrator: “Except this complaint was outside their jurisdiction it decided.”
EUB: “Alberta Environment is responsible for water wells in Alberta.”
Alberta Environment: “True…but the EUB regulates oil and gas industry in this province. We work with EUB staff as partners in these investigations.”
Landowner Stephanie Cowles: “Is it the EUB’s responsibility or is it Alberta Environment’s responsibility? They play Ring Around the Rosie about people’s water wells.”
Bruce Jack: “They’re supposed to be our regulators and it doesn’t seem that they’re doing it. I just don’t have a bunch of faith in either one of them right now.”
The Ping Pong game is “World Class” Alberta regulator practice and has been for decades.
Learn more about how the game is played in Andrew Nikiforuk’s award-winning Slick Water.
After my lawsuit went public, the Alberta gov’t gave energy companies all the water they want under REDA, and moved the regulation of it from Alberta Environment to AER, but you’d never know it by Minister Savage’s statements.
Best Alberta comment of 2021 by Pete Pringle March 25, 2021:
Every single UCP member and voter should be stuffed into those mines and then have them caved in.
Marie Aitken March 24, 2021:
Saw this when we were leaving Lethbridge today:
Tina Dmytryshyn March 26, 2021
Just sent this off to Sonia Savage.
Dear Ms. Savage,
It has come to my attention that during a meeting with the Southern Alberta Mayors and Reeves on March 5, 2021, you were asked if water quality and the effects of coal projects in the mountains were going to be part of the upcoming policy review. To which you answered, no. You said that water was under the Alberta Environment and Park’s responsibility and water was not going to be part of the coal policy review.
Ms. Savage, please explain to me how you can discuss coal mining in the Eastern Slopes of the Alberta Rockies without discussing water allocation and water pollution? This is of fundamental concern to Albertans as the Eastern Slopes house the headwaters that provide drinking water for millions of Albertans. These waters have made it possible for ranches and farms to exist and thrive in this area for over a hundred years. If these waters are polluted they will no longer be usable for livestock or the irrigation of crops.
Today the Federal Government issued new fines to Tech Coal for $60 million dollars due to selenium poisoning contaminating waterways in southern British Columbia. That is exactly the scenario that we are looking at in Alberta and is the reason that water needs to be on the agenda at the upcoming policy consultations. Or are these consultations just a sham that you are putting on to try and appease the outrage of the citizens in this province?
If you do not feel qualified to answer our questions about water safety and allocation, I suggest you speak with Minister Nixon and tell him that his presence will be necessary during the upcoming consultations.
I should warn you, Ms. Savage, the outrage you have seen from Albertans to date on this issue, is nothing compared to the fury that will be unleashed if these consultations are not far reaching with extensive testimony from experts on the risks to our headwaters in the Eastern Slopes.
Comments by a rural Albertan regarding the article below:
the bruce jack clip was the first thing that popped into my head. and then old stevie wallace “edits” to the water contamination … and every other bit of corruption in fucking slickwater book … same textbook application for the coal rollers … glad it’s all documented. will be easier for people to see … thank you jessica ernst and andrew nikiforuk
M.D. concerned about coal production effects on water by Cole Parkinson, Taber Times, March 24, 2021
While there has been plenty of back and forth around coal production in Alberta over the past several months, the Municipal District of Taber is bringing forward further concerns about the impact it has on water.
Reeve Merrill Harris presented the concerns during a meeting of the southern Alberta Mayors and Reeves — where they met with the energy minister.
“This is something that came up as a result of our meeting Mayors and Reeves on (March 5). We had Sonya Savage, Energy minister, as well as Oldman Watershed council,” explained Reeve Merrill Harris at the M.D.’s regular meeting March 9. “They both made presentations on coal production in the foothills. After minister Savage made her presentation, I asked her the question — if during the consultations on the coal policy review, if water quality and the effects of coal projects in the mountains were going to be part of the policy review? She said ’no, that water is under the Alberta Environment and Park’s responsibility and the Alberta Energy Regulator makes decisions regarding coal projects and water was not going to be part of the coal policy review.’ I think the downstream effects have to be looked at.”
“I’m not opposed to coal mining, as (long) as there are no downstream effects. I don’t know what everyone else thinks, but I think it needs to be part of the coal policy review,” added Harris.
Others on council felt similarly to the sentiments issued by the reeve.
“I have to agree with you. I think water quality should be a part of that consultation. I know it’s under a different governing body, but it should still be somewhat taken into consideration when developing strategies for coal projects,” stated Coun. Leavitt Howg.
“There has to be some process in place for Alberta Environment to be involved in the process. Maybe not specifically to the policy, but environment usually plays a major role in any kind of project of that magnitude. I think I’d be more curious to know what the process is and how they’d be involved and not necessarily that they wouldn’t be involved in the review of a particular policy,” added Deputy Reeve Jen Crowson.
Another concern brought forward was the fact multiple departments couldn’t work together on this.
With many municipalities bringing forward a concern about water safety with coal development, Coun. John Turcato pointed out the provincial government should be just as concerned.
“I’m just a little confused in the fact the provincial government is encouraged to actually mandate that all municipalities start working with their neighbours, yet our own government can’t seem to work with their own departments. I think it’s very important all the departments responsible for the security of the water, the mining, all work together with the common policy. And if that can’t be done, then maybe they need to revamp the whole system because that is very important. That has to be done and that is something the government should be working on — inter-agency collaboration.”
“It seems to be everybody’s working in silos and we’ve seen how poorly that can work with municipalities and I think the same can be said for provincial departments,” he said.
A motion to have administration write a draft letter addressed to Savage, CC’d to Premier Jason Kenney, AER, MLAs Grant Hunter and Joseph Schow and Alberta Environment outlining the M.D.’s concern was carried unanimously.
Coun. Brian Brewin was absent from the meeting.
Comments by rural Albertan regarding the Shootin’ the Breeze piece below:
nice article. wasn’t that the reason for your water contamination … you didn’t use enough water cause you didn’t have cattle … or maybe you used too much … who can keep track anymore …
That indeed happened. I managed the impossible to get Alberta Environment to investigate and test my water (they wanted only Encana/Ovintiv to investigate – the company the regulator knew had illegally frac’d our drinking water aquifers and diverted water without the mandatory permit). Al Straus, Alberta Environment tester, could not hide his shock at how contaminated my water was. Before any of his testing was complete and with not one sample yet taken to the lab, he blamed me for causing the contamination because I did not run cattle on my land and thus did not use enough water. A few days later, I was blamed because my two little dogs and I used too much water and thus contaminated it.
Adjusting water allocation will create ‘opportunities for good jobs,’ says MLA by Sean Oliver, Feb 11, 2021, Shootin’ the Breeze
In an attempt to help the local agriculture industry combat dry weather conditions, the Oldman River Dam was constructed in 1991. To help ensure adequate supplies of water were accessible downstream, a water allocation order was established in 2003 and later renewed in 2010. Eleven thousand acre-feet — over 13.5 billion litres — of water can be claimed by various stakeholders upstream from the dam.
The allocation order specifies water allowances for municipalities, commercial businesses, recreation, rural communities and agriculture. Each can use 1,500 acre-feet of water.
One hundred fifty acre-feet is set aside for industrial purposes, and the remaining 3,350 is reserved for irrigation.
The allocation is an important way to ensure there is water for different uses. The problem, says Livingstone-Macleod MLA Roger Reid, is not enough water is being used.
“We are underutilizing the allocation in the Oldman watershed,” he says. “We’re using about 16 per cent of the allocated water.”
With 11.3 billion litres of water going unused, changing the allocation rules could potentially attract other water-reliant industries to the area.
“What I’m looking for from my standpoint as an MLA is a direction for us to look at opportunities to diversify our economy,” Mr. Reid says.
The proposed changes would dissolve the individualized limits within the 11,000-acre-feet allocation. Additionally, 20 per cent of the allocated water would be dedicated to environmental concerns, something the MLA says is a positive move for fishing in the area.
Consultation with stakeholders was initially planned for last spring, but the pandemic pushed discussions back to November. Conversations will continue, Mr. Reid says, especially to make sure the adjusted allocation matches long-term planning of municipalities.
“Our water is an important resource for us, and we want to make sure that we manage it well,” he adds.
Local municipal districts, however, have a different take on how the consultation process is going.
In a Feb. 1 joint letter from the MD of Ranchland and MD of Pincher Creek, municipal officials described the proposed changes to the allocation order as “deeply troubling.”
“What appears to be passing for consultation,” the letter reads, “is a rapid ‘drive-by’ where provincial officials appear to be merely giving notice as to what is going to happen, as opposed to seeking meaningful input from the residents and jurisdictions impacted.”
The letter also says the initial intent of the order was to enhance irrigation for municipalities upstream from the dam, and that the government seems to have forgotten this.
With renewed interest in coal mining in the Crowsnest Pass area taking off, many people worry the changes to water allocation are simply an attempt to encourage more mining projects, threatening the integrity of the watershed and limiting water access for other groups.
While removing the 150-acre-feet water limit on industry would help mining projects, Mr. Reid says the changes go beyond seeking to draw to any one industry.
“It’s a commitment for us to look at attracting a variety of business opportunities to the riding, to create jobs for our people. To build a sustainable economy means we need to have a broader stroke,” he says.
For example, agrifood production requires significant levels of water. Freeing up water amounts in the allocation would attract investment to Alberta.
“We’ve had lots of discussions about why we grow what we grow and then ship it to Ontario for processing,” says Mr. Reid. “These are opportunities for good jobs in the riding, opportunities for economic growth.
Bringing in extra industries to consume water, he adds, wouldn’t threaten existing users because those with earlier water licences would retain priority. Geographically speaking, mining projects in the mountains would have first access to water, though the severe water underutilization suggests there is ample room to grow.
Levelling the playing field for water access, Mr. Reid concludes, is a way to lower barriers for industries that are interested in investing in the area but have held off because they can’t access the needed water for operating.
“I as an MLA don’t want us to see us turn away business because we’ve created extra hurdles for them,” he says.
The current water allocation order can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/OldmanH20.
Refer also to:
Frac Water Orgy Announced by AER’s Mark Taylor (ex-manager Encana who lied to Rosebud, said Encana would never frac their drinking water). No Wonder AEP is Taking Water Licences Away from Farmers/Ranchers: AER grants 10 year blanket approval water licences; Companies need not know where they will frac, or how much they will frac or where they’ll get their water from
Steve Wallace with Alberta Environment, secretly edited the “independent” reports reviewing Alberta Environment’s lame and incomplete water investigations, including changing the conclusions to take the blame off Encana and put it onto nature and the water well owners.