News | DrumhellerMail - Page #14
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Last updateTue, 18 Jun 2024 12pm

Water licensees in southern Alberta join together in midst of drought

Alberta has endured several dry spring and summer seasons over the years, and with El Nino bringing a dry winter this year, the province is at risk of a critical drought. Water levels are at below capacity in many rivers and reservoirs throughout the province, especially in southern Alberta.

With the expected critical drought coming this season, water-sharing agreements have been developed between the Town of Drumheller and 37 other water licensees in southern Alberta. The members involved in the agreements have combined access to 90 per cent of the water from the Bow and Oldman basins, and 70 per cent from the Red Deer basin, providing Albertans access to more water during the drought.

“With these agreements, Albertans are once again coming together when times get toughest. They will help make the most of our limited water supplies and make every drop count if a severe drought hits this summer,” states Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, Rebecca Schulz in a recent press release. “These irrigators, industry and municipalities are demonstrating the leadership, dedication and community spirit that makes this province great.”

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Participating irrigators will cut back on their water use by others in need to get their water first, then use the remaining water available. Participating industries will use the minimum amount of water needed to maintain their operations in a safe way, while exploring other water conservation options. Participating municipalities, including Drumheller, will commit to reducing and saving five to ten per cent of water consumption from May to October if the drought response measures are implemented.

“For many years, Alberta's irrigation districts have been collaborating with the Government of Alberta and other water licence holders in the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) to progress responsible water use within the SSRB,” states the Chair of Alberta Irrigation Districts Association, Alex Ostrop. “The 2024 water-sharing agreements continue this important cooperation and put into action irrigation districts’ longstanding commitment to provide water for human use and livestock sustenance in times of extreme drought.”

The government will oversee the implementation of the agreements by monitoring conditions and alerting those involved if an agreement needs to be put into action in a specific basin. To ensure every drop is used, the government will optimize water storage and operations in certain basins and reservoirs for drought mitigation. They will also provide updates to the water supply forecast every two weeks.

Five areas that will be considered before deciding if an agreement needs to be implemented are what the moisture data shows, what irrigation districts decide what is an appropriate amount of water to use per acre, what the reservoir levels are at, the demand for water and what any local challenges might be.


Alberta Utilities Commission presents changes to Kneehill County

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The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) was asked by Kneehill County’s Administration to attend the Tuesday, April 13, Committee of the Whole Meeting and give a presentation to council members to share knowledge about the processes of renewable energy projects, their environmental impacts or setbacks, and what residents can do if they are against the projects.
“Our mandate is to make decisions on utility applications that are in the public interest. Public interest can be viewed differently between applications. In some instances, environment, social or economic, each of them have their own unique issues or considerations that the commission (AUC) weighs and reviews differently,” states Richard Golberger on behalf of the AUC at the meeting.
The AUC conducts regulatory reviews in a fair process and ensures reliable service at reasonable rates. They regulate investor and municipality owned utility providers and ensure energy facilities are built, operated and decommissioned in an environmentally safe manner. They also provide information about the electricity and gas markets in Alberta.
In August, 2023, the AUC was inquired by the government to look into a number of issues and gather information about how renewable energy projects affect land use and the impacts they have on the electrical grid.
Some changes that have occurred are that municipalities now have the right to participate in the hearings, developers are now responsible for reclamation costs to the government or landowners and renewable energy projects are no longer permitted to be constructed on Class 1 or Class 2 Lands unless it is proven that crops and livestock can coexist with the developments.
One main concern the Council had focused on was shadow flickering, a phenomenon where the sun shines through the moving blades of wind turbines, creating a shadow that moves. It is a nuisance to nearby communities and homeowners because the shadows flash across buildings and homes.
“What are the ongoing projects at the AUC that study the long term effects of these renewable projects on the public, animal, human, soil and water?” inquired Division 5 Councillor Laura Cunningham. “One of the main concerns I have had from the people that live in my division, where there is a huge project coming up, is the shadow flickering.”
“We have had an unbelievable amount of shadow flicker information put before us over the course of multiple years,” replied Kim McNab, who presented alongside Goldberger on behalf of the AUC. “ Generally speaking, I am not aware of any decisions that current science suggests are the impacts around shadow flickering. I think a lot of it depends on the characterizations of the specific project.”
What the AUC suggests the public does if they have concerns or objections around renewable energy projects happening in their communities is to join their process.
“We would encourage them to join our process once an application is filed,” replied McNab. “ Even before that, the proponent of that project should be consulting with the people. Making their concerns known right up front is very helpful,” says McNab.

2024 Celebration of Excellence Award Finalists Announced

Chamber of Commerce

The Drumheller and District Chamber of Commerce and Travel Drumheller are pleased to announce their award finalists for the 2024 Celebration of Excellence. The awards will be presented on Thursday, June 13 at the Badlands Community Facility. The evening will celebrate individuals, organizations and businesses for their achievements and contributions to the community.
Finalists for the Drumheller and District Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence awards are:
• Business Professional of the Year: Dr. Ivan Chan, Keri Looijen, Greg Manca
• Community Builder: Drumheller & District Humane Society, Drumheller Community Learning Society, Napier Theatre
• Employer of Choice: Harper’s Tire, Hi-Way 9 Express Ltd, Riverside Value Drug Mart
• Most Promising New Business: Bubba T’s Bus Tours, Heller Good Sandwiches, JJ Deliveries
• Small Business of the Year: Badlands Photography, Napier Theatre, Riverside Medical Clinic
• Large Business of the Year: Badlands Amphitheatre, Reality Bytes Inc., Riverside Value Drug Mart
Finalists for the Travel Drumheller Tourism Excellence awards are:
• Hospitality Ambassador: BJ Janzen, Jody Sunstrum, Deanne Zariski
• Tourism Business of the Year: Bikes & Bites, Rosebud Theatre & School of the Arts, The Sunny Spot
Tickets to the Celebration of Excellence are $45 each and are on sale now until June 6th at 12pm. Tickets are only available online at www.drumhellercelebrationofexcellence.com. All members of the community are invited to attend this special evening of recognition and celebration.


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