Alberta WPACs organize and support collaborative events and forums. These events and forums help to share best practices, and to support the Alberta WPAC community of volunteers working to enhance, protect and plan for the future of our watersheds in Alberta.
On behalf of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA) and the eleven Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils in Alberta (Alberta WPACs), we invite you to attend the first annual conference jointly co-hosted by CWRA Alberta and the Alberta WPACs. The theme of this year’s conference is Water and the Environment: Watershed Planning and Management in Alberta, which reflects Alberta’s growing emphasis on the integrated planning and management of land and water resources.
The conference will address a wide range of topics concerning water resources and watershed management, including the technical aspects as well as the policy and implementation side of watershed planning and management. Conference topics will include the areas of common interest between the two organizations in Water Resources and Watershed Management with a commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability. The primary themes for discussion include:
Click here, to learn more about Water and the Environment: Watershed Planning and Management in Alberta conference.
This year's WPAC Summit was packed with informative and interesting topics. It included a combination of field tours as well as formal presentations and working sessions.
Over 100 delegates from across Alberta representing all 11 WPACs, provincial and federal agencies, as well as partners from Montana attended the event. The Summit was based in Lethbridge, but had several interesting excursions. Highlights included a trip to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park and another into Montana to view the dam, canals and siphons used to regulate flows in the St. Mary and Milk Rivers. Participants also saw the after-effects of the Milk River grass fire that cut a swath across the prairie just a few weeks earlier.
The main conference had several presentations (can you believe tracking down sources of faecal contamination using DNA?) and a good review and discussion of a draft provincial Guidebook for Watershed Management Planning. Watch for this new publication in the new year. As well, videos of the Summit presentations are soon to be available through the websites of the Alberta WPAC’s, the Milk River Watershed Council Canada and the Alberta Land-use Knowledge Network.
Overall, the Summit was a great success! Thanks go to Tim Romanow and his team who planned and delivered this wonderful event.
Hosted by the Lesser Slave Watershed Council, “Summit on the Shore” occurred October 12 – 14, 2011 in the community of Slave Lake. Attendees were on hand from each of the Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils from across the province. A diverse and engaging group of speakers presented on far ranging topics. The successful event saw information freely shared by those at the podium and among those attending.
As well as plenty of opportunity for informal networking, this year’s Summit offered opportunities for listening to the learning experiences of the most recently formed to WPACs to those longer established WPACs, and the lessons they have learned on Integrated Watershed Management Planning. Collaboration between WPACs remained a priority on the agenda with discussions on how it might be structured, including key elements and related actions. Facilitated sessions gathered feedback on the key elements and actions drafted to date.
The 2012 WPAC Summit will be hosted by the Milk River Watershed Council Canada.
Alberta WPACs met with Alberta Environment managers and staff for the Annual WPAC Forum on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Sharon Willianen and her team had a full agenda with presentations on the Land Use Framework, Integrated Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Framework and the new Protocol for Watershed Management Planning. Participants discussed the various tools for water and watershed planning and then we got down to business with a “world café” discussion on the potential role of WPACs in the new Cumulative Effectives Management System (CEMS).
During the day several conversations were initiated regarding the evolving roles for WPACs and mention was made of the new to be formalized Alberta WPACs collaborative alliance. The 11 Alberta WPACs are interested in discussing their potential roles in CEMS and other provincial initiatives. The Strategic Relationships Section of Alberta Environment talked about their recent discussions with a group of four Alberta WPACs Executive Directors, which led to a discussion paper on possible roles. Some clarity was seen on Alberta WPACs’ important role as an advisor providing input to the various land use processes around the province. Government comments highlighted the value of WPAC input into management frameworks and there was a real interest in increasing coordination among the various sectors that already sit on the WPAC boards. Several people mentioned the continued need for place-based, collaborative watershed management plans which if aligned, can help inform and implement CEMS outcomes.
Several WPAC Executive Directors and Managers commented on their interest in seeing increased coordination between Alberta WPACs and the Government of Alberta. One comment suggested that CEMS might become an important initiative that Alberta WPACs could help champion. It appears to include many of the goals that WPACs are already delivering on and should help align and coordinate initiatives, resources and communication. It could also help us all move from words to actions.
The Executive Directors and Program Managers met again in Red Deer on May 4, 2011 and finalized this Action Plan with specific immediate actions, responsibilities and timelines assigned. It was also agreed that progress on the implementation of this action plan will be a standing agenda item at future Executive Director and Program Manager meetings including the 2011 Summit.
On January 18, 2011, the WPAC Executive Directors and Managers met in Red Deer to review the recommendations resulting from the Summit 2010 and to explore the possibility of formalizing collaboration of the WPACs.
The Executive Directors and Program Managers concluded that it was in their best interests to begin the process of fleshing out the key components of an ‘action plan’ with specific tasks and timelines that would result in a more formal working relationship and thus help them meet their individual goals and priorities. They also recognized that in doing so, it was important to capitalize on the respective attributes of each of the WPACs while building a solid foundation for collaboration in a practical and phased manner.
At this year’s annual Summit, held in the Cypress Hills and hosted by SEAWA (South East Alberta Watershed Alliance) and Milk River Watershed Council Canada, Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils (WPACs) gathered to inform each other about their current initiatives and to discuss opportunities to improve their ability to collaborate on common activities and challenges. Sixty-five participants attended the Summit, representing staff and board members from Alberta’s 10 WPACs, consultants, non-governmental organizations and representatives from the Government of Alberta.
Presentations by each WPAC revealed their unique approaches and priorities, as they reported on their efforts to prepare their State of the Watershed Report, develop a Watershed Management Plan and provide watershed stewardship education and awareness programs. David Marshall, Executive Director of the Fraser Basin Council, gave the keynote presentation that focused on “The Power of Collaboration,” and the important role his organization plays facilitating multi-stakeholder discussions around difficult issues in the Fraser basin and elsewhere.
While recognizing the uniqueness of each organization, the visioning session that followed focused on identifying common challenges, and where Alberta’s WPACs may be able to improve how they work together to more effectively and efficiently achieve their individual goals and priorities. Conference participants identified three major areas where they faced common challenges: funding; raising awareness of WPACs and their role in watershed assessment and planning among the public and watershed stakeholders; and common standards, especially around issues of assessment (indicators, methodology and reporting).
After a presentation by Michael Henry, Abells Henry Public Affairs, on different approaches used by organizations with similar mandates to organize themselves to meet common goals, participants suggested they were supportive of the network model currently used by WPAC Executive Directors and Managers, but that it may be time for greater involvement by Board Chairs. While there was a desire to expand the roles and responsibilities of this network and to collaborate on more things more often, participants were cautious of adding complexity and cost, and wanted to be respectful of the time asked of their volunteer Chairs. To conclude, participants charged the WPAC network of Executive Directors and Managers to quickly come up with recommendations on how to move collaborative efforts forward for discussion with each WPAC’s Board.
The Honourable Rob Renner, Minister of Environment, closed the Summit by saying that the government is very aware of the challenges facing Albertans in water management, and that he is committed to working with WPACs and other advisory bodies and planning authorities to ensure the province can manage growth in a sustainable manner. He suggested that the challenge is to consider all available options, and to engage stakeholders in a way that does not imply that ideas generated through discussion will automatically lead to policy, but instead to shift the conversation away from emotions and interests towards a debate based on facts and logic.
..about the media news release for the Alberta WPAC Summit on a Summit (October 20-22, 2010).
Click here...for the Annual Water for Life Partnerships Newsletter (Issue 1, February, 2012)
Stay tuned, we're still working on our Alberta WPAC website, and are developing our Recent News section...in the interim, check out our WPAC Connector Newsletter, as well as the rest of our Alberta WPAC website!