City asks for information about joining water protection organizations

By Jessica Dempsey

January 24, 2018 12:38 PM

Mayor Gerald Aalbers. File Photo

City council had their first Governance and Priorities Committee meeting of 2018, and it was a day packed with information.
A topic up for debate was the possibility of becoming members of the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) and Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin (PFSRB).
“Certainly, it’s an area that council had some questions about,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
The NSWA’s mission is “to protect and improve water quality, water quantity (instream flow) and health of our watershed by: seeking, developing and sharing knowledge; facilitating partnerships and collaborative planning; and working in an adaptive management process.”
The PFSRB’s mission is “to promote watershed sustainability through awareness, linkages, and stewardship”.
“One of the areas from my perspective is because we take water, it is our source of drinking water, from the North Saskatchewan River, we certainly have an interest in it. As well as we discharge our treated water from the wastewater treatment facility back into the North Saskatchewan River, so it plays a part,” said Aalbers.
A membership fee is collected for both organizations, and that is something which was thoroughly discussed as to whether or not to join.
The NSWA membership is calculated as $9,870 for 2018 and the PFSRB membership is $2,000 per year, plus additional costs of being a member. 
“If you’re going to be a member, we want to be an active part of that member,” added Aalbers.
The cost factor seemed like one of the biggest talking points about each organization, as both are unbudgeted.
“We have to weigh the balance of the values that would be to join that membership versus the actual cost,” explained Aalbers.
Coun. Jonathan Torresan brought up during the meeting that it might be hypocritical of the city to join these memberships while the wastewater treatment plant is still not meeting the needs of government regulations.
“My concern was on coming off as a hypocrite, because of the fact as it stands right now, we are not able to treat all of the items in the Sask Water Security Agency’s list of things we ought to treat,” he said.
He noted signing up for a group that believes in the protection of the river might not look the best when the city currently has things they need to fix in order to help with the protection.
“Although I did suggest, and some of the other councillors I think were on board of the general idea of looking at this item again, maybe after we get some solid plans as far as the wastewater treatment plant goes,” said Torresan.
City council asked administration to come back with more information about both organizations to determine clear objectives and goals.
“Would it be helpful at this time with our negotiations with the wastewater treatment plant? It may and it may not be,” said Aalbers.
Overall, Aalbers noted these organizations were good to be aware of.
“Water is the key source to everyone and without good, clean drinking water, and if we are discharging back into the North Saskatchewan River, we want to do it properly. So, it has effects for everybody,” he said.

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