Water Matters promotes adoption of integrated land-use planning and forest protection as key strategies to protect water sources in Alberta's Eastern Slopes for the Prairie provinces.
The Eastern Slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains covers an area of approximately 90,000 km2 of mainly forest-covered mountains and foothills. Concern for protection of resources-water, timber, and land-in this region is not new. Since the late 1970s the impacts of land-use change and pressures for resource extraction were identified as significant to the environmental quality and management of this region. (Source: Government of Alberta, 1984. A Policy for Resource Management of the Eastern Slopes. Edmonton, AB) The upper watersheds of the Eastern Slopes are the source of water for a number of downstream needs including agricultural, municipal, and aquatic ecosystem needs. Protecting watersheds in the Eastern Slopes is especially important for downstream water users.
Unfortunately, the linkage between land-use management in upstream watersheds and the downstream effects on water supplies are not always considered. For example, many Calgarians are not aware of the fact that protecting the upstream forests would contribute to protecting their water supply. Source water protection in the Eastern Slopes of Alberta is not just an environmental issue, but also one of public health and economy.
Our Place in the Headwaters Conference
A recent conference gave some clues on how we might actively protect the southeastern slopes, the source of southern Alberta's water. The Our Place in the Headwaters conference was organized in partnership by the Alberta Wilderness Association, Bow River Basin Council, and Water Matters.