By J.W. Schnarr
The provincial government needs to step up and take a more active role in Water Act enforcement, particularly when it comes to drainage issues.
That was the crux of a discussion between Jack Dunsmore, director of planning and infrastructure for the Municipal District of Taber and M.D. council during their regular meeting on Aug. 26.
Dunsmore’s staff report involving local drainage issues sparked a discussion over the inactivity of Alberta Environment with regards to water issues and the frustration local municipalities are experiencing because of it.
“We’ve been working with Alberta Environment on a few drainage issues with landowners,” said Dunsmore.
“How is (Alberta Environment) stepping up?” Reeve Brian Brewin asked. “Are they taking some ownership?”
Dunsmore said he would know the answer to that soon enough as there were several projects on the go and he was in e-mail contact with Alberta Environment and the landowners involved.
“We’ll see if (Alberta Environment) stands up and takes responsibility and helps us or not,” Dunsmore said.
Brewin asked if previous drainage work which had been done was affecting infrastructure in the area, and Dunsmore said there wasn’t one specific location but a problem affecting the M.D. as a whole. Unfortunately, there has been little help forthcoming from the provincial government to do anything about it.
“There’s only so many times you can talk to the landowners and they’ll look you in the eye and tell you pretty much to get in your truck and leave them alone,” Dunsmore said. He added the widespread attitude that if a neighbour is draining their property without permission, then anyone can do the same has not helped the situation.
Brewin said he agreed that was a common attitude among some landowners.
“Alberta Environment, we can’t do it without their help,” said Dunsmore.
A common complaint with Alberta Environment has been their lack of involvement in water issues, particularly when it comes to drainage.
While the prevailing message from the province seems to be that there is not enough manpower to go around, Dunsmore questioned the logic of this message.
“They’ll tell you they don’t (have enough manpower), but isn’t that part of their job?” he asked.
“They own the Water Act, it’s their legislation,” said Municipal Administrator Derrick Krizsan. “It’s up to them to enforce it.”
Brewin said he appreciated the continued efforts by M.D. staff.
“We’ll keep working on it,” said Dunsmore.
“It’s not going to get solved overnight. We’ve got the irrigation districts working with us, for the most part, on some of the applications, so that’s coming along.”