Monday, January 2, 2017

“Having an abundant supply of water is a prerequisite to having a strong economy,” Westhead told Postmedia. “If we don’t have water, we don’t have agriculture, we don’t have tourism. We can’t support our economy without water.”------------Julie Ali · University of Alberta I have always been interested in the use of water by industry in Alberta. I am specifically interested in how much water is used by the oil and gas industry and what the GOA does to determine water contamination such as baseline water testing. I have repeatedly asked the GOA under the PCs and now under the NDP to provide the public with data with reference to how much water is being used by the oil and gas industry. They did not respond with data. In the case of fracking, a large amount of water is used that cannot be returned to the water cycle. It's not clear to me how we will be able to do large scale fracking in Alberta and still maintain healthy water reserves. It is also not clear to me if baseline water testing is required and if ongoing testing of water reserves is done to ensure that there is no contamination of water used by the public. Water is more important than oil. Despite the money provided by the NDP to protect water resources there has been no studies that I know of to investigate the effects of fracking on water consumption and contamination. The case in Rosebud, Alberta with well water on fire is troubling and asks us to look at the problems of fracking in our communities. The GOA has failed to address the issue of fracking contamination of water leaving it up to individual landowers to go to court to dispute these matters. This is not responsible governance and more is required of the GOA than minor efforts such as leaving these problems in the hands of downstream agencies like the AER which does not appear to work in the public interest in my opinion. Water contamination issues such as those experienced by rural Albertans need to be investigated by the GOA and appropriate penalties applied to the oil and gas industry. After all if water is contaminated, we can't drink oil can we? https://bccla.org/.../shut-the-frack-up-ensuring-canadas.../ FRACKING THE ROSEBUD AQUIFER Jessica Ernst lives on a rural property near Rosebud, Alberta. Her home is supplied with fresh water by a private well that draws from the nearby Rosebud Aquifer. Between 2001 and 2006, EnCana, a North American oil and gas company, engaged in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, for methane gas at dozens of gas wells adjacent to her property. The operation involved drilling into the ground and injecting large quantities of highly toxic fracking fluids. Soon after the operations began, Ms. Ernst’s well water became severely contaminated with hazardous and flammable levels of methane and other toxic chemicals. Her water became so contaminated with methane that it could be lit on fire. Jessica Ernst repeatedly brought her concerns to the attention of the Alberta Energy Regulator, which is responsible for receiving public complaints, conducting investigations and taking enforcement action when the rules have been broken. She also voiced her concerns publicly, through the media and with fellow landowners and citizens. She was critical of the Regulator’s response to the contamination, alleging that despite clear knowledge of potentially serious industry-related water contamination and breaches of the law by EnCana, the Regulator had failed to respond or take appropriate action to address these concerns, and was basically ignoring her complaints. In 2006, the Regulator took its disregard of Ms. Ernst’s complaints a step further: a manager informed Ms. Ernst that he had instructed staff to avoid any further contact with her. Her subsequent letters were met with silence and returned unopened. She was told by a member of the Regulator’s legal branch that they would not reopen regular communications with her until she agreed to raise her concerns only with the Regulator, and not publicly through the media or with other citizens. She was unable to lodge complaints, register concerns, or participate in the Regulator’s compliance and enforcement processes. She was essentially silenced in her attempts to register her serious and well-founded concerns that EnCana’s fracking activities were adversely affecting her groundwater supply. She believed she was being punished for publicly criticizing the Regulator and bringing unwanted attention to its failure to act. Like · Reply · Just now

Alberta to take action on water security

The Rocky Mountains not only provide a vital supply of water to Albertans, they also supply water to the province's downstream neighbours. RANDY BOSWELL / POSTMEDIA, FILE
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Just before the fall session wrapped up, Banff-Cochrane NDP MLA Cameron Westhead made a private member’s motion asking the government to take action to conserve headwaters. 
Water from mountains and hills of the Rocky Mountains account for 80 per cent of Alberta’s water. Downstream, Saskatchewan and Manitoba count on it, too. 
The motion passed (motion no. 511) and, although it’s not binding, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative program director Stephen Legault hopes it signals the direction the NDP government will head to preserve Alberta’s water. 
Legault has been working on conservation efforts in Alberta for more than two decades.
Although his organization had good relationships with governments past, he doesn’t think former administrations paid enough attention to protecting watersheds.
“There’s a string of bad decisions made over the last 20 or 30 years that have led us to a crisis level,” Legault told Postmedia.
He pointed to policies around forestry and off-highway vehicle use, which have decimated watersheds.
Where once the water would soak in during heavy rain, it now runs off heavily compacted earth as though hitting a sheet.
The situation needs to be changed dramatically, he said, if watersheds are to be protected. 
Legault is pleased with Westhead’s motion, but said it’s time for the province to “take up the challenge and start talking about what it means on the ground,” and make water a priority for 2017.
“Hard decisions have to get made, but they will be decisions that will service the province in the long term,” he said. 
Legault would like to see at-risk watersheds identified and preserved with the help of communities, outdoors folk, conservation groups and First Nations. 
The only MLA who spoke against Whitehead’s motion was Progressive Conservative Dave Rodney, who worried about the effect it might have on metallurgical coal mining in Alberta. 
While the motion was well-intentioned, Rodney said, it has the potential to prevent job creation at a time when Alberta desperately needs it.
Westhead acknowledged coal as an important driver of the provincial economy, but said as long as the industry and government are working together making decisions based on science and evidence, the two can hash out any concerns.
“Having an abundant supply of water is a prerequisite to having a strong economy,” Westhead told Postmedia.
“If we don’t have water, we don’t have agriculture, we don’t have tourism. We can’t support our economy without water.”
It seems the government is looking towards water preservation, last week announcing a multi-year grant totalling $925,000 to the Land Stewardship Centre to help protect Alberta’s water resources.
The grant, through Environment and Parks, was approved for $250,000 this year, followed by $225,000 for each of the next three years.
In a statement, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips called the centre an “important partner in Alberta’s efforts to promote healthy aquatic ecosystems.”
“Programs funded by these grants will result in reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy and safe, secure drinking water which will benefit all Albertans,” she said. 
Alongside that grant, $3.2 million was allocated to Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils this year to promote the health and sustainability of Alberta’s water resources.



Julie Ali · 
I have always been interested in the use of water by industry in Alberta. I am specifically interested in how much water is used by the oil and gas industry and what the GOA does to determine water contamination such as baseline water testing.

I have repeatedly asked the GOA under the PCs and now under the NDP to provide the public with data with reference to how much water is being used by the oil and gas industry. They did not respond with data.

In the case of fracking, a large amount of water is used that cannot be returned to the water cycle. It's not clear to me how we will be able to do large scale fracking in Alberta and still maintain healthy water reserves. It is also not clear to me if baseline water testing is required and if ongoing testing of water reserves is done to ensure that there is no contamination of water used by the public.

Water is more important than oil. Despite the money provided by the NDP to protect water resources there has been no studies that I know of to investigate the effects of fracking on water consumption and contamination. The case in Rosebud, Alberta with well water on fire is troubling and asks us to look at the problems of fracking in our communities. The GOA has failed to address the issue of fracking contamination of water leaving it up to individual landowers to go to court to dispute these matters. This is not responsible governance and more is required of the GOA than minor efforts such as leaving these problems in the hands of downstream agencies like the AER which does not appear to work in the public interest in my opinion.

Water contamination issues such as those experienced by rural Albertans need to be investigated by the GOA and appropriate penalties applied to the oil and gas industry. After all if water is contaminated, we can't drink oil can we?

https://bccla.org/.../shut-the-frack-up-ensuring-canadas.../
FRACKING THE ROSEBUD AQUIFER

Jessica Ernst lives on a rural property near Rosebud, Alberta. Her home is supplied with fresh water by a private well that draws from the nearby Rosebud Aquifer. Between 2001 and 2006, EnCana, a North American oil and gas company, engaged in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, for methane gas at dozens of gas wells adjacent to her property. The operation involved drilling into the ground and injecting large quantities of highly toxic fracking fluids. Soon after the operations began, Ms. Ernst’s well water became severely contaminated with hazardous and flammable levels of methane and other toxic chemicals. Her water became so contaminated with methane that it could be lit on fire.

Jessica Ernst repeatedly brought her concerns to the attention of the Alberta Energy Regulator, which is responsible for receiving public complaints, conducting investigations and taking enforcement action when the rules have been broken. She also voiced her concerns publicly, through the media and with fellow landowners and citizens. She was critical of the Regulator’s response to the contamination, alleging that despite clear knowledge of potentially serious industry-related water contamination and breaches of the law by EnCana, the Regulator had failed to respond or take appropriate action to address these concerns, and was basically ignoring her complaints.

In 2006, the Regulator took its disregard of Ms. Ernst’s complaints a step further: a manager informed Ms. Ernst that he had instructed staff to avoid any further contact with her. Her subsequent letters were met with silence and returned unopened. She was told by a member of the Regulator’s legal branch that they would not reopen regular communications with her until she agreed to raise her concerns only with the Regulator, and not publicly through the media or with other citizens. She was unable to lodge complaints, register concerns, or participate in the Regulator’s compliance and enforcement processes. She was essentially silenced in her attempts to register her serious and well-founded concerns that EnCana’s fracking activities were adversely affecting her groundwater supply. She believed she was being punished for publicly criticizing the Regulator and bringing unwanted attention to its failure to act.
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Michael Cameron · 
This was pointless. The Fed conservatives sold all of Canada's fresh drinking water away with the free trade agreement. We no longer own it.
LikeReply3Jan 1, 2017 1:11pm
Susan Fortay
Have another New Years Drink!
LikeReplyJan 1, 2017 1:33pm
Kurt Robinson · 
Ummm....he is not lying....USA has extensive plans to drain water from Great Slave all the way to California...Also atm BC is in court over water ownership with an American company
LikeReply222 hrs
Michael Cameron · 
BC is being sued for billions be a useful they said no to the bottled water company. Ontario is having to sell thier at almost nothing. Don't believe me. Look it to it, thanks to the free trade agreement the conservatives signed, legally we can't say no. They signed away all of our natural resources.
LikeReply120 hrs
Susan Lemay · 
Isn't Trump getting out of free trade agreement?
LikeReply19 hrs
Michael Cameron · 
He claims. I wouldn't hope on a better deal for Canada. He'd screw us over for laughs.
LikeReply117 hrs

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