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Commentary: Water resource protection a must

If lakes, rivers and streams are not properly managed today, the damage caused to the region’s drinking water supply, tourist industry, and the overall environment could be profound
opinion

With the busy summer camping and outdoor recreation season getting into high gear across West Central Alberta, thousands of visitors are set to enjoy the region’s renowned wilderness areas, including the many pristine lakes, rivers and streams in the district.

Whether enough is being done to protect those vital water resources as the volume of visitor traffic ramps up after several years of COVID-19 restrictions remains to be seen.

What is known is that if those lakes, rivers and streams are not properly managed and maintained today, the damage to the region’s drinking water supply, to the tourist industry, and to the overall environment could be profound, impacting in many ways the lives of residents and visitors alike.

Jason Nixon, Sundre-area MLA and Minister of Environment and Parks, recently said the provincial government is well aware of the value of the water resources in the region and is making a concerted effort to protect those priceless public assets.

“Albertans place tremendous value on our water resources,” said Nixon. “This is especially true for headwaters, the source of drinking water for many downstream communities.”

The government has started work on surface water quality management frameworks for some of the major river systems in the province in an effort to monitor and manage long-term, cumulative changes in water quality, he said.

“With the completion of the new frameworks, surface water quality management frameworks will be in place for the entire Eastern Slopes area,” he said.

As the increasingly grim and tragic situation in the southwestern United States shows all to clearly, a failure to make the conservation and protection of water resources a top priority can have hugely damaging impacts on agriculture, tourism, and the overall health of residents in communities large and small.

West Central Alberta has some of the most pristine water resources anywhere in Canada. As such, all stakeholders are encouraged to do whatever they can today and tomorrow to protect and support those invaluable lakes, rivers and streams.

- Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan