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About Traversing Terrain and Experience: Atlas of the Battle River and Sounding Creek Watersheds

By Battle River Watershed Alliance

The land that drains into the Battle River and Sounding Creek- these watersheds- provide a backdrop for the unfolding lives lived full of courage and tragedy, heroism and heartbreak. Over time, this landscape has witnessed the retreat of glaciers, Indigenous peoples and great herds of bison, the arrival of the Fur Trade and European settlers, the ploughing of fields, and the creation of modern cities. This book tells these stories, and many more.

In 2014 with the help of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and others, the Battle River Watershed Alliance set out to tell these stories in an Atlas unlike any before. In 2017 the dream became reality and the Traversing Terrain and Experience Atlas was published. This is no ordinary atlas; this is a compilation of stories, art, photography, geography, and interesting facts that make our home unique. It blends the science with the social, it reflects on how the land has shaped us, and how we have shaped the land. It expands our understanding of place, as it takes you through the story of a landscape rich in history, culture, resources, and inspiration.

 

The 120 pages of this hardcover book contain 100% local information on everything from climate and weather, to population density, to art and culture. The watersheds region is expansive and diverse. The Atlas has equal representation from urban and rural perspectives, from the western headwaters at Battle Lake to the eastern confluence with the North Saskatchewan River, from the northern parkland to the southern grassland, from past, to present, to future.

The Atlas will be distributed at no cost to the 60+ schools and 40+ libraries in the watershed, ensuring all students and community members can have access to it. Books are also available for purchase through the BRWA website at www.battleriverwatershed.ca/atlas.

By reading through this atlas you will come to understand the deep and profound relationship between the land, water, people and all living beings. You will see the interconnection between our environment and our economy. You will learn more about the communities which make up this region, and the extraordinary people who call this place home.

Climate and Weather Pages

Population Density Pages

 

 

Insights from “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Which way? Right way?” workshop

By: Alberta WaterPortal Society

With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, this summer the Alberta WaterPortal held a workshop entitled “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Which way? Right way?”. The Water-Energy-Food Nexus is about recognizing and working cooperatively across multiple essential water uses. These uses include water for producing food, water for producing energy, and water for basic human necessities. When water resources are limited there are tradeoffs between these uses. “The Nexus” has become the defining term for understanding the interconnections between water, energy, and food.

It is critical to engage a broad range of stakeholders when discussing the Nexus because at its core the Nexus is about cooperation and sharing across different sectors. The workshop brought together stakeholders from academia, water management, food, energy and other sectors for a discussion on how to educate and inform Albertans about the Nexus. The workshop gathered valuable feedback and inspiring ideas for the WaterPortal team to change the existing online simulator tool and educational materials. It also identified what is needed to complete the ‘picture’ and how to make the online material more engaging.

The workshop was structured around three collaborative activity sessions and participants were asked to mix themselves up among the tables between each activity. This was to ensure participants all heard a variety of each other’s perspectives throughout the day. The activities asked the table groups to create an example of how to represent the Nexus visually, to identify all the information and data that would be helpful to include about the Nexus, and to explore the online simulator tool that has been created and provide feedback.

  

Figure 1: Results from participants’ creativity in first activity       Figure 2: Results from participants’ creativity in second activity

The following key points emerged as the workshop identified the stakeholders’ concerns and opportunities to improve the representation of the Nexus:

  • Communities should be represented at the centre of the Nexus
  • The Nexus is complex and the balance between water uses will always be changing
  • There are multiple scales of understanding and decisions to convey (individual, community, provincial level Nexus)
  • Understanding the Nexus demands more Alberta-centred data
  • The online simulator tool needs to be made more engaging

The feedback and suggestions are now being used to direct the WaterPortal team in the next steps of the year-long Nexus project.

The Alberta WaterPortal would like to thank the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and Alberta Innovates for supporting the Alberta Nexus project, and the University of Calgary – Haskayne School of Business for providing a venue for the workshop. Finally, we would like to thank the participants for the fruitful discussion and pleasant atmosphere during the workshop.

Water Heaters 101: Getting yourself in hot water

Smart Homes Series: Part 1 – Choosing the best high efficiency water heater

By David Dodge and Scott Rollans

A typical hot water heater accounts for about one fifth of the energy used in most Canadian homes. Choosing the right hot water heater, therefore, can have a huge impact both financially and environmentally—especially as energy prices and carbon levies continue to rise.

Many of us still choose conventional, gas-fired hot water tanks, because they’re cheapest—or, are they? Over its lifespan, the initial price of your hot water heater can represent as little as 12 per cent of its overall cost. The other 88 per cent is energy.

For that 88 per cent, we wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck. So, we asked Ken McCullough of Think Mechanical to walk us through three high-efficiency choices: conventional-style high-efficiency power-vented tank, on-demand tankless, and hybrid heat pump.

“The more people you have in your home, the more hot water you’re going to use,” McCullough observes. “It’s important to know that you have the highest efficiency that you can possibly have. Otherwise, you’re just throwing money out of the window.”

Super-efficient water heater nirvana

These days, hot water heaters all come with an “energy factor” rating, or EF. A tank with an EF of 1.00 would be perfectly efficient—with all the energy being converted to hot water. This factor is often expressed as a percentage. A standard tank has an efficiency rating of about 60-65 per cent, meaning 35-40  per cent of the energy goes up the flue, or radiates out as the water sits in the tank.

You’ll also want to look at your new system’s recovery rate—the rate at which it can heat the fresh water flowing into the tank. The higher the rate, the less likely you are to run out of hot water during heavy use. Here we present three great choices for dramatically increasing the efficiency of your water heater.

High efficiency power-vented Water Heater

If you’re reluctant around new technology, you might consider a high-efficiency power-vented tank. It looks like an old-school water heater, complete with a 50 gallon tank, but it’s side-vented (like a high-efficiency furnace) to decrease heat loss. This helps boost its efficiency to 90 per cent—or, about 30 per cent more efficient than a traditional tank. Meanwhile, its very high recovery rate, 80 per cent in one hour, will help keep the hot water flowing. You can get a 79 per cent efficient model for $2,700, but the highest efficiency model we looked at clocked in at over $4,800 installed.

Tankless on-demand Water Heater

We were particularly interested in an on-demand tankless hot water heater. As the name suggests, this heater kicks in only when you turn on the hot water tap, heating the water as you use it rather than storing it in a tank. It heats the water quickly enough to provide an endless supply, assuming you’re not using a lot of hot water all at once (say, washing clothes and running the dishwasher while you shower). “You’re going to turn on your tap, and you’ll get hot water,” McCullough says.

With an efficiency ratings of 95-97 per cent, this is the highest efficiency available in a natural-gas water heater. At 95 per cent efficient and priced at $3,700 installed, our choice is more expensive than a conventional water heater, but the long-term savings more than balance that out. And, because there’s no tank, the system frees up a lot of space in your furnace room.

Heat Pump Water Heater

McCullough also showed us the state of the art in efficient water heating: a hybrid heat-pump hot water tank. It looks like a conventional tank, but with a cap on top containing a heat pump. The heat pump draws heat from the air in the (normally very warm) mechanical room—like a refrigerator in reverse—and transfers that heat to the water. This allows the heater to achieve an efficiency rating of 330 per cent, meaning the heat energy transferred to the water is more than triple the amount of electricity consumed.

Because the heat pump water heater is entirely electric, it is perfect for net-zero homes with no gas hookup (meaning you also save $60/month on gas-line administration and delivery charges). Some early adopters are choosing these in conventional homes as well. McCullough quotes $4,400 for this option, making it slightly cheaper than the high-efficiency power-vented tank. The one downside is its relatively slow recovery rate of just 80 liters (21 gallons) per hour.

For a summary of three high efficiency choices of water heater finish reading David’s blog on the Green Energy Futures website.

AREF Helps Alberta NGO Spread a Vital Message: Safe Water Shouldn’t Be Taken For Granted

By the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST)

Water is something few of us give much thought to in Alberta, unless of course it involves flooding. But how often do any of us think about where our next glass of clean, safe water will come from? The truth is, likely never. That’s because water is readily available with the twist of a tap, the flush of a toilet, or the push of a button from our fridge dispenser.

The truth is water is something none of us can afford to take for granted because it is a necessity of life, a human right, and it can be here today and gone tomorrow. All it would take is an issue with water safety or the effects of climate change and H2O would be at the forefront of our thinking. While that may be less likely in Canada, it’s a reality for millions around the world: lack of safe water and sanitation.

CAWST is a Calgary-based NGO which helps people in developing countries to access safe water. So far, it’s helped 13.1 million people in 82 countries. But raising awareness about conserving and protecting this important resource is also something it champions here in Alberta.

Last June, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) helped CAWST to educate Albertans through a grant that supported several workshops at CAWST’s Beyond the Tap: Water Workshops and Networking event. People learned how to spot water waste in their own homes and how to correct the issue. They also learned about water contamination, rainwater harvesting and global water issues.

Four workshops were offered which drew dozens of people. The Handy Home Water Solutions workshop, hosted by the City of Calgary, taught Calgarians how to identify and repair leaks in their homes and to reduce household water consumption with simple solutions.

The Protecting the Source workshop, offered information about what can be done at the grassroots level to combat water contamination.

Rainwater Harvesting touched on harvesting what falls naturally from the sky, both locally and globally, and the different ways precipitation can be used around the world.

Finally, the Approaches to Development workshop enlightened people on how best to help communities in developing countries with issues such as access to water.

The grant by AREF to CAWST made the workshops possible, ensuring more thought is put into our most important resource, and into ensuring it’s there for years to come and accessible to humans everywhere.

CAWST is a huge Alberta success story. It was founded after a U. of C. engineer, Dr. David Manz, invented the household biosand filter, which revolutionized the ability of families to access their own safe water. A woman named Camille Dow Baker saw this invention and, knowing it could change the world, she started CAWST. CAWST doesn’t build solutions for people, it teaches people how to build solutions themselves using local materials. The household biosand filter was just the beginning of empowering people through knowledge.

Now, 15 years since it began, CAWST is a leader in solving world water issues. March 22nd is World Water Day, a day designated by the United Nations to draw attention to water issues. And this year, it’s being marked by CAWST’s “Paint the Town Blue for World Water Day”. Landmarks across the country will light up in blue, including Niagara Falls, BC Place, Edmonton’s High Level Bridge, the Calgary Tower, and Calgary’s Reconciliation Bridge, Telus Spark and Galleria of Trees.

In addition to the illumination of landmarks, Albertans are urged to:

  1. Snap a photo of a landmark lit in blue on March 22nd, and to share it on Twitter @cawst #paintitblue.
  2. Pick up a special “CAWST Paints the Town Blue for World Water Day” button, outside of Blink restaurant in Calgary on March 21st.
  3. Attend the World Water Day celebration at the Telus Spark in Calgary on March 22nd, 4:30 to 7pm. To register, check out: http://www.cawst.org/worldwaterday

AREF helped CAWST get the message out about why we should all think twice about water. Now, we can all help CAWST spread the word so that every human being has access to safe water.

Alberta’s water news gathered for you

When it comes to water, everything is connected – it is completely unique in this respect. In addition to being a critical resource for life, it supports the environment, economies, and social well-being. The average Canadian uses 329 liters of water daily but how many of us think about where it comes from, or the issues and challenges we face to manage and protect this precious resource across Alberta?

One way to be informed about water in Alberta is the Alberta WaterPortal Society News Digest. This twice-weekly service is your informant for water news, events and issues provincially, along with comparisons and insights nationally and internationally. With the huge influx of news and media in our world, it can be time consuming to sift through the most relevant and accurate information and that’s where the News Digest can help. If you’re interested in water, all the sorting is done for you – saving you time and energy while leaving you informed.

Many subscribers enjoy reading news from all across Alberta:

“The WaterPortal provides excellent information on all relevant topics – it’s the birds-eye-view for what I like to consume on water-related topics and discussions.”

“The Alberta WaterPortal does an amazing job of aggregating all things related to water in Alberta (and beyond sometimes). This is an incredibly important function. Also love the original content too!”

In line with the Alberta WaterPortal Society’s values to operate transparently, without bias and with inclusivity, the News Digest provides a well-rounded service to encourage discussion and inform decisions for a better water future.

We encourage you to join our loyal subscribers via www.albertawater.com/sign-up-for-our-newsletter. You can also check out our work, including the innovative Alberta Water Nexus Project kindly supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, via www.albertawater.com

Edmonton & Clearwater County Residents Love their Headwaters

New poll highlights connection Edmonton has with Bighorn Wildland

Canmore, AB – A new poll being released today by the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) highlights the strong relationship Metro Edmonton residents, and those living in Clearwater County, have with their headwaters.

The Bighorn is a region of mountains, foothills and boreal woodlands found on the eastern border of Banff and Jasper National Parks, west of Rocky Mountain House. “The North Saskatchewan River starts in Banff National Park,” says Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director for the Crown, Alberta and NWT, “but the Bighorn is where it gets almost all its water from. Bighorn water finds its way into every tap in the Capital Region. Taking care of those headwaters means clean water for all Edmonton and area residents.”

In a poll conducted in late September and early October for the conservation group, researcher eNRG found that 83% of Edmonton residents are in favour of protecting the Bighorn region. 77% said that where commercial use of public land like the Bighorn could have a negative impact on wildlife habitat or water that it should not be allowed. Furthermore, when asked how they would like to see the Bighorn area managed, 79% said that they would like to see sensitive wildlife habitat protected and for other areas to allow non-motorized recreation. Nearly 7 in 10 Metro Edmonton residents knew that their water came from the North Saskatchewan River.

“There is strong support for the protection of Edmonton’s water source,” says Legault. “People in the region feel very strongly that ensuring they have a clean, clear water is important, and favour protecting that water source for future generations.”

In the same poll, 88% of residents in Drayton Valley, Rocky Mountain House, Nordegg and rural Clearwater County favour protecting the environment of the region. 79% said that where commercial use of public land like the Bighorn could have a negative impact on wildlife habitat or water that it should not be allowed. 68% of residents of the region favour protecting the Bighorn as a wildland park.

“The Bighorn is the closest mountain region to Edmonton,” says Dr. Hilary Young, Y2Y Program Coordinator for Alberta. “Calgarians have Kananaskis Country, and a lot of that is protected for headwater conservation and recreation. Edmonton deserves the same opportunity. We believe that for Edmonton to be able to count on the Bighorn as a source for clean, clear water in the future, the region should be protected with a core wildland park and a series of provincial parks and public land use zones.”

“Most local residents and property owners strongly favour protection of the Bighorn” says Nordegg business owner and resident Marla Zapach. “Protecting the Bighorn will bring new economic opportunities. Creating parks is a form of economic stimulus and would encourage the development of more businesses in and for the community. This is something local residents support.”

The poll was conducted by Edmonton-based eNRG for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. 400 residents of metro-Edmonton and 200 residents of rural areas east of Edmonton (in the North Saskatchewan watershed) were polled. The results are valid +/- 4.8%, 19 times of out 20 for the Edmonton sample and +/- 8% for the Clearwater County sample.

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For further comment, contact:

Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director – Crown, Alberta and NWT 403-688-2964 | stephen@y2y.net

Hilary Young, PhD., Y2Y Program Coordinator – Alberta 403-609-2666 ext 104 | hilary@y2y.net

Marla Zapach, Nordegg Resident 403-846-6627 | marla@skadiwilderness.ca

 

To learn more about how Y2Y is protecting Alberta Headwaters visit their website here.

 

Alberta Septic Maintenance Pilot Program Launched

Partners come together to support responsible management of private onsite wastewater systems

By: Land Stewardship Centre

For rural homeowners, private onsite wastewater systems (septic systems) are often the only option for treating their household wastewater. How these systems are used, and the decisions homeowners make about how to manage and maintain their septic systems have the potential to have a significant cumulative effect on the Alberta landscape, the environment and our water resources.

The potential for operation issues or failures increases without routine maintenance. These failures can result in contamination of surface water and groundwater, and also pose a health risk to people and animals exposed to untreated wastewater.

Unfortunately, landowners in Alberta have not always had access to the information, resources and support that can help them responsibly manage their systems. So, in early 2015, Land Stewardship Centre (LSC), in partnership with Alberta Onsite Wastewater Management Association (AOWMA) launched Septic Sense, an onsite wastewater system education and outreach pilot program for landowners in Alberta.

“Surface water contamination from poorly managed and maintained septic systems can be an issue, especially around more developed recreational lakes. The Septic Sense pilot program is a proactive, collaborative approach to educating landowners, and helping them properly manage and maintain their septic systems can help address this concern,” says Amrita Grewal, Program Research Coordinator with LSC.

This multi-agency initiative is being rolled out as a one-year pilot project in order to implement, test and evaluate the feasibility of developing a full-fledged septic system operation and maintenance workshop program in Alberta. LSC and AOWMA have engaged representatives from government, municipalities and industry to serve on a Steering Committee and provide oversight for the pilot program. Alberta Municipal Affairs, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, in addition to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) and the Association of Summer Villages of Alberta (ASVA), have all been approached to join the Steering Committee.

Similar in format and style, and an excellent complement to the province’s long-standing Working Well program (www.workingwell.alberta.ca), the Septic Sense pilot program will offer a range of educational opportunities and resource materials for landowners, including a workshop and a homeowner’s guide developed by wastewater management experts that covers various types of septic systems and ways to cost-effectively maintain septic system. Program information will include an overview of the relevant legislation governing onsite wastewater systems and stress the importance of having licensed contractors design and install systems to ensure they meet all guidelines and requirements. Appropriate use and maintenance of septic systems, and a troubleshooting guide that addresses common issues and questions will also be included.

The response from municipalities and other organizations for this type of program has been extremely positive, and many have expressed how useful such a program will be to landowners.

For more information on the Septic Sense pilot program, contact AOWMA www.aowma.com or LSC www.landstewardship.org.

The Alberta Water Nexus Simulation

The Alberta WaterPortal, through sponsorship from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Enbridge, and Veolia, developed case studies, an interactive simulation, and Sankey diagram for users to explore the implications of the convergence of demands for water in the Bow River Basin. Known as the Nexus, this concept highlights the interconnectedness of water for food, energy, and communities.

A first in Alberta, the Alberta Nexus Project analyzed strategic plans as well as existing watershed and industry data within the Bow River Basin to create an interactive simulation that shows the influence of future water demand on overall water management and availability on a regional basis. Users can try their hand at water management to see how well they can manage the converging demands of water, in addition to population growth and climatic change, in 2030.

Regardless of where it is applied, the Nexus Concept is complex and shows the intricate nature of water management. As populations grow, the Nexus Concept and approach to decision-making will result in a more holistic water management process and help us to address the risk of resource scarcity.

See if you can manage water needs across the Bow River Basin in 2030:  http://www.albertawater.com/nexus-simulation

From Street to Stream – Calgary Feb. 10, 2015

The Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows & Fish) and the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership Society (ALIDP) invite you to attend our From Street to Stream ½-day workshop.

This collaborative project will weave together the story of cause-and-effect between land development and real-estate features and actions at the lot and neighbourhood level through to outcomes, impacts, and remedial actions for our streams and riparian areas—taking you From Street to Stream.

This initiative is sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the Calgary Foundation, and the RBC Blue Water Project.

FAQs

Is this event open to anyone?

Yes!

Substitutions

Substitutions are fine. Please let us know who you are substituting for so we can keep an accurate count.

Parking

Parking is free, but limited, in the gravel lot immediately to the west of the Water Centre. Erlton is the closest LRT station.

I can’t make this workshop. Will this workshop be offered at another time or place?

Yes. We expect to offer this workshop in Lethbridge, Red Deer, Edmonton, and in the Battle River Watershed in February – dates are pending. If you are interested in hosting or attending this workshop at another time or location, please contact the organizer and let us know. We’d love to make it happen.

 

 

Stewarding Lac La Biche, by Living Lakes Canada

Lac La Biche is the seventh largest lake in Alberta, with importance to the local economy and culture.  Local and provincial government, in collaboration with lake stakeholders, created a watershed management plan for Lac La Biche in 2009, but little has been done to date to implement it.  That is soon about to change, with the formation of the Stewards of the Lac La Biche Watershed, a group of community stakeholders committed to implementing the monitoring, outreach and stewardship recommendations in the plan.  With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the newly formed group will be able to take on activities that will increase publicly available science about the lake and provide means of disseminating that information to stakeholders.  Since the project start date, a group of steering committee members has formed to work out the mechanics of the group so that it will make the broadest and most enduring impact on protecting the lake values.

Location of Lac La Biche

 

 

 

After the Flood – A Resource for Landlords and Tenants

The Centre for Public Legal Education just put together this resource for landlords and tenants who have been devastated by the floods in Alberta. You can go to the resource or click the picture below to read the info sheet, and you can click here to listen to an audio Q & A version. Thanks to Marc Affeld at CJSW 90.9 FM, Calgary’s Community Radio station, for developing the recording and making it available.

So many people in Alberta have been involved with the floods; please pass this information along to those who need it.

The resource answers common questions, like:

  • What if the rental property has been damaged by a flood?
  • Does the tenant have to keep paying the rent after a flood?
  • Can the tenant move out because of the flood?
  • Can the landlord use the security deposit to pay for damages?
  • Who pays for stuff that is damaged?
  • What if the tenant thinks the property isn’t safe or healthy to live in?
  • Tips to help
  • Where can tenants and landlords get more help?

After the Flood - Resource for Landlords and Tenants