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Municipal Forum 2018
AWC-WPAC, Events, and Stakeholders | November 2018

On November 17, 2018, the Athabasca Watershed Council (AWC-WPAC) hosted a Municipal Forum in Westlock, AB. The purpose of the forum was to enhance watershed literacy & awareness, build relationships, share information, and discuss watershed management best practices with our Municipal partners. The attendees included Mayors, Reeves, Councilors and Managers from various towns and rural municipalities throughout the Watershed, plus many of the Athabasca Watershed Council Board of Directors. The day featured 5 presentations and an interactive roundtable exercise. Links for all the presentations in PDF format are included here.

Board Members Janice Pitman & Cleo Reece
Board Chair Brian Deeher goes over a map with presenter Sarah Skinner

The morning kicked off the Board of Directors and presenters being marched in with bagpipes. Cleo Reece, Board Director and Fort McMurray First Nation Elder, blessed us with a prayer and smudge. She asked for a day of sharing, learning and co-operation. Then our Board Chair, Brian Deheer, led the group through a rendition of O Canada. He greeted the group, made some introductions and gave an update on the activities of the AWC-WPAC over the past year.

Our first presenter was Dr Robert Holmberg, Professor Emeritus, Biology, Athabasca University. His presentation “Athabasca River Basin: Glacier to Delta” gave a thorough overview of the Athabasca Watershed. Starting with the question “What is a watershed?” it covered geography/geology, major research studies, the various industries located in the watershed and the major concerns happening in the region. Even though his powerpoint file was corrupted and his slides weren’t perfect, he didn’t skip a beat and fell back on his vast knowledge of the River Basin. His presentation sparked a lot of conversation later on in the day.

The next presenter, AnnLisa Jensen, Councilor with Parkland County, unfortunately, cancelled due to personal issues. Luckily Petra Rowell, who collaborated with AnnLisa on the Sturgeon River Watershed Alliance Integrated Watershed Management Plan, stepped in to give the presentation. “Municipal Watershed Partnerships: Overview of the SRWA” covered the basics on the State of the Watershed, issues and challenges, and why municipal collaboration is key.

Laura Redmond takes questions from the floor.


After lunch, Laura Redmond, Limnologist from the Upper Athabasca Region gave a quick breakdown: “What is Limnology?”. As a “water quality specialist”, it’s Laura’s job to study inland freshwater systems. Her work is based around the Water For Life strategy, the same as all the Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils. She works on regional and sub-regional plans and management frameworks, approvals and compliance referrals, network and relationship building and more. We are excited to work with her more in the future.

Our next presenter was Sarah Skinner, Watershed Planning Coordinator for the Battle River Watershed Alliance. She spoke to us on “Source Water Protection in Alberta: Provincial, WPAC, and Municipal Initiatives”. She defines source water protection as “Protecting the quality and quantity of ground and surface water sources used for a variety of purposes (with a focus on drinking water protection)”. Sarah then went on to describe building source water protection initiatives and planning using the City of Camrose as an example.

Sarah Skinner gives an overview of Source Water Protection.

Our final presenter was Petra Rowell, who spoke about the Integrated Watershed Management (IWMP) that she is collaborating on with the Technical Committee of the AWC-WPAC. She walked us through what an IWMP is, who is involved, and the key themes that will be addressed.

She then led the group through an interactive roundtable exercise to get opinions and information from the municipalities on the key themes. A volunteer facilitated each table. The participants gave answers to various questions and then moved to the next station to answer different questions. There were multiple great discussions around the tables and Petra received valuable information to add to the IWMP. Read the findings from the roundtable exercises here.

Petra Rowell informs the group on the progress of the AWC-WPAC Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP)

The day was wrapped up by Executive Director, Janet Pomeroy. Janet discussed how accounting for water resources will affect planning in years to come. She also covered next steps, the importance of municipal collaboration and thanked everyone for participating.

Overall, the event was a great success. Feedback so far has been positive. The Board and staff feel that it gave us an opportunity to set the stage for formal IWMP engagement with our Watershed Municipalities. We look forward to partnering with all our Municipal stakeholders to fulfil the Water for Life strategy:

  • Safe secure drinking water
  • Healthy aquatic ecosystems
  • Reliable, quality supplies for a sustainable economy