Water scarcity becomes an issue in Alberta

31 October 2011

La Rive, Franschhoek, South Africa (Photo: Bill Harding)

Droplets has been quiet for a couple of days as we have been away at the Open Gardens show in Franschhoek.

"Love in the Mist" Nigella damascena (Photo: Bill Harding)

Water issues are especially charged in southern Alberta,

where almost every river, lake and stream has been closed to new water licence requests since 2006. Since new licences are no longer readily available from the government, a market has sprung up with 60 licences bought and sold in the last five years.

The issue is intensified by debate over Alberta’s century-old “first-in-time, first-in-right” water system, which gives the oldest water licence holders first dibs on supplies. Some of the oldest and most senior licence holders — and therefore those who wield the most water power — are irrigation districts for southern Alberta farmers, and the city of Calgary.  

Blue-green algae which can cause a variety of symptoms, including skin rashes and vomiting if swallowed, have been found at an Anglesey reservoir.

 Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is warning the public about restricted use of the area at the Llyn Alaw reservoir at Llantrisant. The algae produces toxins which can cause a variety of symptoms.

South Africa’s Mining Minister wants full control over the process of awarding mining licences.

 Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu wants the power to issue mining permits, water licences and environmental authorisations simultaneously,  Beeld reports. Shabangu told business people in Australia an integrated process would prevent different interpretations of mining legislation and eliminate misunderstandings. The report notes that mining houses often start their activities with mining permits before obtaining environmental authorisation or acquiring water licences. Federation for a Sustainable Environment director Koos Pretorius welcomed the proposal as long as Shabangu’s department would not be heading the integrated process. DA spokesperson Gareth Morgan agreed, adding that Parliament wanted to amend the Environmental Management Act and Mining Act in 2009 to create a new system for environmental regulation through the Department of Environmental Affairs. Shabangu refused to support such a proposal, he said.

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