Friday, 12 September 2008

Wetland Drainage Update

With all the sudden election/debate hubbub, I've neglected to post about what's happened since I spoke with the reporter at the site of the drained wetland.

In a nutshell, the reporter went ahead and spoke with Alberta Environment and confirmed that water diversion permit posted at the site was a valid one. The reporter also found out that the water was being used on a road construction project. The main questions remaining were whether or not the County had been withdrawing water from the wetland before getting the permit, and/or if the County had only applied for the permit because I complained to them. The reporter suggested I contact Alberta Environment myself, and express my concerns, and said that there wouldn't be anything to write an article about unless the County was actually found guilty of improper water removal after an investigation by Alberta Environment.

So I called the Alberta Environment 'tip line' and an Environmental Protection Officer called me back. He was fairly receptive to my concerns, and said that he would be speaking with the County and applying the necessary 'pressure' to ensure compliance with the water extraction regulations. He said that the water truck operator should have had a copy of the extraction license with him, and so if I see it happening again I am within my rights to ask to see the license. He also said that for future reference, it would be good to be in a position to take a date-and-time-stamped picture of any truck extracting the water from a wetland or other body of water. I didn't have such a picture this time, so there really is no verifiable proof that water was being extracted from the wetland. You can be sure I will be carrying some sort of picture-taking device in my car from now on. I sent the EPOfficer the pictures I did take and he has forwarded them to the water licensing staff for their records.

So, as it stands now, there is no article in the paper, and nothing other than a cautionary phone call from Alberta Environment to Sturgeon County. I'm trying to look at it as a step in the right direction, but it does make me angry that it is so time consuming and complicated to just get someone to stop doing something they knew they shouldn't have been doing in the first place. It's kind of ridiculous to have to go around carrying a camera all the time so you can prove you've seen what you've seen. I also just have to take it on faith that the EPO actually did call the County and apply the requisite 'pressure' and that this will actually make a difference.

But, I stood up and said something. I bore witness to what happened and didn't just ignore it. At the very least, the County knows that this citizen is keeping an eye out, and is ready to speak out again.

(Neat side story: while the wetland story didn't get published (yet), I did speak to another reporter at the same paper about my adventures in canning, and that story did get published last week. You can read it here. The reporter did a nice job of reflecting the food security and interconnectedness issues I mentioned during the interview, which I happily told him I very much appreciated !)


kale for sale said...

Great article about canning and a nice balance to the watershed story.

I just finished for the second time a book, An Unreasonable Woman, that completely relates to your experience with the city and EPO. Except the author was roadblocked for years to finally get a resolution. It would almost be a comedy if it weren't true.

Simply Authentic said...

Theresa, I'm still so impressed you have put all this work into it though! You are incredible and doing the right thing.

Great job!

Theresa said...

Kale - I also said a couple things about peak oil to the reporter who wrote the canning article, but I'm not surprised those didn't make it into the paper. I wonder when that will start changing? Soon, I think.

SA - I drive by that wetland at least 10 times a week, and just can't get it out of my mind. It will be interesting to see what my next letter back from the County will say. I doubt they will admit their mistakes, but I'm sure I'll get a response of some kind. I figure I'll give them until the end of next month, and if I haven't heard anything by then, I'll send off another letter. I'm just not letting go of this one!