Developers near Balzac, Alberta (north of Calgary) have begun construction on a new horse racetrack and entertainment centre. The catch? The construction began before they secured a water source. The Balzac mall controversy highlights the growing challenge of intrabasin transfers in Alberta.
The quest for water to feed this new development has spurred much public debate, particularly with an initial request to secure water from the Red Deer river. While it now appears the water will be secured from the Bow River, the wastewater will be discharged to the Red Deer River. Alarmed by the need for provincial direction, Environment Minister Rob Renner has convened a special committee to evaluate existing policy on intrabasin transfers.
The record of the Balzac case brings critical issues of water scarcity to light: What are the ramifications of intrabasin transfers? How do we accommodate new water users in our closed basin? Read on to learn more.
Related Report: Fight to the Last Drop
This report reviews Alberta's framework for dealing with water scarcity and examines some recent, highly controversial water supply schemes that may offer a glimpse into Alberta's future. Two case studies of water scarcity from 2007 in southern Alberta illustrate the troubling public policy issues to be addressed.