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Watershed News
February 2015

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Meet Medicine Hat, the City with a
Sunshine State of Mind !

Ted Clugston gave his second State of the City address on January 13th, an annual event meant to look back over the past year and provide a glimpse into the one ahead.

Clugston reviewed his campaign goals, reported on municipal projects and strategic goals and unveiled a promotional video that related to the city's profile and self-image. View the video on the Experience Southeast Alberta website. Find answers to five frequently asked questions about the new brand, Medicine Hat - A Sunshine State of Mind.

 

Mayor Clugston loves this city and so do we!

Beat the Winter Blues

 

Call it the winter blues or a seasonal sadness - whatever term you use, around this time many of us start to feel our mood sinking and we feel tired or sluggish. 

That's because during these shorter and colder days, we spend more time indoors and are less active, according to Ashley Solomon, PsyD, a clinical psychologist who blogs at Nourishing the Soul. "We tend to be more sedentary, which we know impacts our level of energy and even interest in activities," she said. Our eating habits also contribute to our sinking mood and energy levels. "We tend to eat warmer, heartier meals," Solomon said. Eating more sugary foods (which is common from Halloween to New Year's) also spikes glucose levels, leading to a crash of exhaustion, 

But that doesn't mean you're doomed to a dull and fatigued fall and winter. Click here for ways to lift your energy and mood.

Family Fun Day

The 7th Annual Kiwanis Club Family Fun Day will be held at Police Point Park on Monday, Feb 16th. Enjoy all kinds of free activities - including snowshoeing and skiing, (if there`s snow!)  There will still be a lot to do even without the white stuff.  Activities start at 11:00 am and continue to 4:00 pm.
 
Check out photos from a previous year!

Eco Friendly Ways to Say I Love You

Blogger cityhippyfarmgirl says,"Stuffed small toys, love hearts, smiling bear faces and large 'made in China' tags, has never been my thing. Ever. I thought about some alternative ways to say I love you for the most heart filled day of the year."

See what she says by clicking this link.

Science Daily
Your source for the latest research news

Visit this website to find articles, white papers and current events relating to water news across the globe! 
Alberta Innovates -
Energy and Environment Solutions

Alberta Innovates (AI) is the name of Alberta's realigned research and innovation system designed to strengthen the province's role as a world leader in using science to seek solutions.Their goal is to help Alberta become a global leader in sustainable energy production and exceptional water and environmental management. AI works with partners to identify critical technology gaps and apply world-class innovation management strategies and research to develop solutions for the biggest challenges facing Alberta's energy and environment sector. From identifying a model to value our wetlands to solving energy storage issues to working with industry to map tailings solutions -- they are working to enhance Alberta's economic, environmental and social well-being. See more on the website.
Connect, Strengthen 
and Expand

SEAWA is gaining momentum with partners and collaborative activities. If you know of a group, business or individual who has a common interest with us, please forward this newsletter on to them! *We are also looking for new members who may be interested in joining the Board of Directors. our AGM is held at the end of March.

Contact us through the
website or visit the office at 1014 Allowance Avenue SE in Medicine Hat.
At the University of Alberta, the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) conducts world-class monitoring of more than 2000 species and habitats to support decision making about provincial biodiversity. ABMI tells the factual story of Alberta's wildlife and ecosystems through the highest quality data
and information. Explore data on biodiversity in Alberta by following this link.

One of ABMI's initiatives is the Ecosystem Services Assessment (ESA). The goal of the project is to develop a system to assess and map ecosystem services across Alberta to better understand how planning and management decisions affect the landscape and increase benefits to Albertans. To watch an informative video, 'Valuing the Benefits we Receive from Nature' please click here. 


Using ABMI's specialized ecological knowledge and expertise, the ESA Project is enhancing and creating knowledge that will support the use of the assessment models, maps and other tools in regional planning, market-based approaches and sustainability reporting.
 
EcoSystem Assessment Models

Under the Ecosystem Services (ES) Assessment Project, ABMI and its partners are using simulation modeling to understand ecosystem services supply and how ES can change with various land management activities. These models allow users to look at changes in ecosystem services as they are affected by different land uses. 


All assessments are completed on provincial and regional scales. Currently, the following ecosystem services have been assessed: Water Purification, Pollination and Forest Timber and Carbon

The water purification assessment represents hydrological processes in Alberta watersheds. This includes the tracking of water and sediment movement across specific landscapes and delineation to water bodies such as rivers, streams, wetlands, or lakes. In part, the model was designed to identify source areas of pollutants, important areas for removing pollutants, and impacts to downstream water users. Visit the Water Purification application of the model to learn more!
Corporate Social 

Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner.

       

When companies operate in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible manner, and they do so transparently, it helps them succeed, in particular through encouraging shared value and social license. Management and mitigation of social and environmental risk factors are increasingly important for business success, as the costs to companies of losing that social license, both in terms of share price and the bottom line, may be significant.

    
To just highlight a few of the companies in the area, click to read about their CSR policies and guidelines:

 

Cenovus - Corporate Responsibility

CF Industries - Medicine Hat Nitrogen Complex - Corporate Culture

CanCarb - Environment, Health and Safety

Methanex - Responsible Care

 

CSR fosters and promotes responsible business practices, and thus support sustainable economic growth and shared value. 


SEAWA and Alberta Water Policy

Alberta's terrain ranges from boreal forest to mountains to foothills to grassland prairie, with dramatic differences in water availability around the province. Much of Alberta's water flows in northern rivers, where, like the rest of Canada, only a small percentage of the population resides. The majority of Alberta's population (88%) lives in southern Alberta in the Saskatchewan River Basin, which has only 13 percent of Alberta's water (Government of Alberta, 2005). Population and industrial growth over the last 150 years has significantly increased the demand for water in southern Alberta.  

The main industries relevant to water (both quantity and quality) and environment are oil and gas, oil sands (in the Lower Athabasca River watershed), forestry (including pulp and paper), and agriculture. Water for Life: Alberta's Strategy for Sustainability is the water planning framework for the province. Water for Life outlined revised actions and released an action plan. Alberta uses a prior allocation system, which is based on the first in time, first in right (FITFIR) principle that gives priority to divert and use specific volumes of water for specific purposes to those with the oldest water licences. FITFIR has been in place since 1894.  Alberta is the only jurisdiction in Canada with a water rights transfer system (i.e. a water market), which allows water licence holders to apply to government to either sell or temporarily lease all,or a portion of, their water licence to other water users. For more on this, visit the Alberta Water Policy Project website.

To date two regional land-use plans have been prepared: the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan and the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan.The plans chart land-use priorities and management outcomes with specific attention to watershed impacts. In September 2013, the Alberta Government introduced a new provincial Wetlands Policy (click here for the website link.) The new policy shifts from a principle of "no net loss" in wetland area that was in effect in settled parkland/grasslands regions, to a system of valuing wetlands to inform management, protection and restoration. 

Today's water challenges and opportunities clearly impact many different jurisdictions, stakeholders and communities. Addressing the protection, allocation and management of water resources requires creative and coordinated efforts. Through a growing number of public and private sector programs and partnerships, some of which are unique, SEAWA is making it easier to share water data, research opportunities and best practices.

Knowledge of our watershed's health is the foundation of effective decision-making. SEAWA's State of the Watershed Report was created to improve access to, and sharing of, all water related data and information on the South Saskatchewan River Sub-basin.
Enhancing the sustainability of industrial development and agriculture can, with care, protect our watersheds and improve our environmental performance. For example, the environmental sustainability of farmed areas cannot be considered without first considering the factors that affect environmental, social and economic aspects of agricultural production.
In this regard, SEAWA is promoting the adoption of best practices across the agricultural sector, such as protecting the quality and productivity of farmed soils, reducing soil erosion and salinity, conserving and restoring soil organic matter, protecting quality of surface and groundwater, preserving and restoring riparian zones, and maintaining or improving the quality of rangelands. Careful attention to these factors will inevitably lead to a better match of land use to the region's land and water capability.

Of the twelve youth programs they support, Agrium has led the development of three highly successful programs called:

Agrium measures its program successes based on stakeholder feedback and interest. SEAWA assists by sharing information with its local contacts about Caring for Our Watersheds (CFOW). 

 

The CFOW program is an environmental educational competition that encourages creativity and rewards students for the solutions they identify. CFOW partners with communities to create focused solutions to local watershed issues.Each year Agrium invites students to submit proposals that answer the question: "What can you do to improve your watershed?" The program rewards the students and the schools who submit the most creative, thought-provoking and innovative ideas. Implementation funding and community mentorship is available to turn the student's ideas into realistic solutions.


Young minds often hold the key to amazing innovations that can protect and improve our watersheds. Contest entrants are to research their local watershed, identify an environmental concern and come up with a realistic solution. Cash awards are given to schools and students who participate. 

 

*Attention teachers: this program is Monday morning ready and fits into curriculum.The current CFOW contest details can be found here

Teachers, students or volunteers are welcome to be in touch with SEAWA for resources to assist you with the contest.

Stay Tuned! Upcoming Events and Activities
Steering Committee Meeting, February 5th, Medicine Hat College
Board of Director Meeting, February 12th, Environmental Utilities
Sunshine Home and Garden Trade Show, Feb 27 - March 1, 2015
World Water Day displays, March 16-29, at the public library and Medicine Hat College
Kiwanis Science Fair, March 21, Medicine Hat College
*SEAWA Annual General Meeting, March 31, Medicine Hat College
Join the Conversation
Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions you have about SEAWA, about land and water issues in the region, or about your personal connection to the watershed.
Get in Touch
Shanna Mohns
Communication Manager, SEAWA
shanna@seawa.ca