Farms, Women, and Water
AWC-WPAC, Events, and Stakeholders | agriculture, water, and women | February 2019
You often hear the saying “Farmers are the stewards of the land.” In some areas of our watershed, you could say the same about water. The central portion of the Athabasca watershed, from just west of Chip Lake to Lac La Biche is mainly agricultural land. That puts a lot of water under the stewardship of our agricultural producers.
On February 7th, 2019, our Executive Director, Janet R. Pomeroy, presented to the Farm Women’s Conference held at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex. There were about 160 people in attendance and there was an entertaining and informative line up for the audience.
Janet gave the crowd the basics on our organization: how much of the province we cover (24% of the land mass), how many people live in the watershed (160,000+) and reminded them that the Athabasca is the longest river that runs just in Alberta and is also the only major river not dammed on its main stem.
Janet touched on the Water for Life Strategy, how our Board of Directors comes to consensus, our State of the Watershed reporting, some of our current and upcoming projects, the roles of WPACs (Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils) and more.
“Sustainability can no longer be treated as a discrete activity that exists in isolation from other processes. An effective and responsible person/business/farm/municipality/watershed must integrate sustainability into all activities which draw from the most precious of all resources.”
How Farm Women Can Protect the Watershed
As business partners, household keepers and community builders, farm women are important stakeholders in the effort to fulfill the Water for Life strategy:
- Safe, secure drinking water
- Healthy aquatic ecosystems
- Reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy
Data shows there are cumulative pressures facing the Middle Basin of the Athabasca, including the following:
- water withdrawal/releases
- linear land disturbances
- potable water reliability
- private sewage systems in disrepair
- lack of enforcement on setbacks
- erosion, flooding and drought (damaged riparian areas)
- climate change
- agricultural run-off (chemical and animal waste)
There are a number of things agricultural producers can do to improve water quality and protect the environment, while still meeting their objectives:
- Make sure septic systems are in good working order and field systems do not output into water bodies
- Keep wells in good working order
- Use off-stream watering systems and/or fencing to keep livestock out of streams, rivers and lakes
- Reduce chemical inputs
- Protect and Restore riparian areas on your land
- Maintain and improve important
- Set aside some land for ecological purposes
- Create an environmental farm plan
- Join or create a stewardship group for your local stream, river or lake
- Become a member and/or donate to your local watershed advisory and planning council
If you would like more information about how you can become involved or improve and protect water on your land, please contact us. You can email, call us at 780.213.0343 or visit us at the historic train station in Athabasca.