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Land Use & Water

Water Matters builds awareness of the importance of managing land use as a means to protect water resources.

The truth Is simple - what happens on the land affects our water. Water pollution on land, for example, can leach into groundwater or surface water with heavy rain and snow melt. Elsewhere, land development can takes place in drier areas putting stress on surrounding water supplies and aquatic ecosystems.

Unfortunately, water and land management decisions have historically happened in isolation. The failure to address the connection between land use and water resource impacts can lead to long-term cumulative impacts on ecosystem health. It can also result in unforeseen expenses such as costly infrastructure upgrades for drinking water treatment. Integrated decision-making that acknowledges both water and land-use values is vital for protecting watershed health while also reducing economic losses.

Our Work

Water Matters works to promote integrated land and water management through the Land-use Framework (LUF), the Alberta government's official initiative on land use. We are working collaboratively with non-government organizations across the province to track the progress of the LUF implementation and regional planning, and how it addresses to the connection between land use and water management, especially how it relates to source water protection. Water Matters also provides needed resources as part of our toolkit providing information to citizens on tools, information, and other resources geared toward integrated land use management.

Land-use Framework (LUF)

The Land-use Framework offers a significant opportunity to integrate land-use decision making with the realities of water. The LUF "provides a blueprint for land-use management and decision-making that addresses Alberta's growth pressures." Read more...

Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM)

Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is the practice of making decisions and taking actions while considering multiple viewpoints of how water should be managed. IWRM considers dimensions of water (surface water and groundwater, and quantity and quality); interactions with land and water; and interrelationships with social and economic development. Read more...

Case Studies

Two case studies from the Bow watershed shed some light on the issues surrounding land-use and water.

Balzac SignThe Balzac Entertainment Complex north of Calgary began construction before securing a water source. And with a sub-basin closed to new water licences, they looked first to the Red Deer for more water, before negotiating a water transfer agreement from the Western Irrigation District. The Balzac Case Study raises questions about Intra-basin Water Transfers and Water Rights Trading in Alberta. Learn more...

Bow River The Horseshoe Lands development would see a new town of up to 5500 residents on the old Seebe townsite at the mouth of the Bow Valley. This development has faced many significant challenges, not the least of which is water supply (in a closed basin) and wastewater treatment. Learn more...