Wildfire season is getting longer in Alberta every year with climate change, scorching land and polluting the air with thick smoke. But, the City of Calgary is studying another, perhaps less obvious, impact of wildfires — drinking water contamination. There haven't been any major fires in the Bow and Elbow river watersheds, upstream of the City of Calgary, for years. But, there are fears a major fire west of the city could wash burned material into the rivers, impacting the drinking water supply for the city's 1.4 million residents.
Some Calgary business owners are teaming up to help flood victims in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. "Absolutely not kidding. Brought a tear to my eye, absolutely devastating," is how Terry Rawn describes the situation in Rhoddy's Bay, outside of Ottawa. The region has been hit hard by spring flooding in the Ottawa valley — more than 5,000 homes flooded last month.
More than three dozen former biologists are asking the Alberta government to stick with conservation efforts in a vast area of west-central Alberta despite what they call misinformation from an Opposition member of the legislature. "We were very concerned about the misinformation, the inflamed rhetoric and the lack of a long-term vision that perspective provides for the Bighorn," said Lorne Fitch, a longtime fisheries biologist and University of Calgary professor who is one 37 signatories to the open letter to Premier Rachel Notley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips. In November, the New Democrats announced eight new parks covering 4,000 square kilometres along the eastern edges of Banff and Jasper national parks in the so-called Bighorn Country.
A former employee of the Town of Oyen in southern Alberta has been fined $1,000 for not monitoring the town's drinking water over a seven-year period. Darcy Dobrosky worked for the town for 37 years and was grandfathered into the public works foreman job. One of his duties was to monitor the town's drinking water — despite failing the formal certification required to do the job.
Looming changes to Health Canada’s acceptable concentration levels of lead in drinking water could see a wash of city homes creep above the recommended level, Epcor warned city council’s utility committee Thursday. Presently, it’s considered safe to have up to 10 micrograms per litre in drinking water. But Epcor officials said Thursday that the federal health agency is signalling it will lower that level to five micrograms per litre, a change that will affect more than 30,000 Edmonton homes.
City administrators have developed a pilot project to help the poorest Calgarians with their water bills. But a city council committee has plenty of questions and defeated the proposal, at least for now. According to the city, 2,300 people who are more than 90 days in arrears on their bills currently owe the city nearly $1 million.
The Coldwater Indian Band, which asserts traditional territories in south-central B.C., said the pipeline route passes an aquifer that is the sole supply of drinking water for its main reserve “This is a major victory for my community,” said Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan. “Thankfully, the court has stepped in where Canada has failed to protect and respect our rights and our water.”
Dozens of boil water advisories have been issued in Alberta First Nations communities, one after E. coli was detected at a daycare, others after mice were found in water tanks.
In all, Health Canada has issued 56 drinking water advisories affecting First Nations communities in Alberta since April 2015 — more than the 52 orders Alberta Health Services made for the rest of the province over the same time period.