Discussing Alberta’s Water Future: Conversations Around the Water Table

Launched in 2015, Project Blue Thumb (PBT) is a multi-stakeholder social lab co-convened by Alberta Ecotrust and the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance that takes a whole system approach to protecting water quality in the Red Deer River watershed. Over that time, more than 35 individuals from municipalities, agriculture, forestry, energy, the nonprofit sector, the provincial government, and the public have worked together to test new water solutions in the areas of education, policy, agricultural extension, citizen science, and more.

Building on the ongoing work of our current members, the PBT organizing team interviewed 13 multi-sector practitioners to hear their thoughts about the future of water in Alberta and potential directions. Insights from these conversations guided the development of six Action Pathways for work within the watershed, designed to provide a strategic direction to the lab without losing the magic of emergent spaces and ideas. The Action Pathways build off of work done within the lab space over the last two years and provide fuel to energize our work. Additionally, the interviews were condensed into blog form, and recently posted on the Alberta WaterPortal in a series of six articles to be shared with a broader audience that you can access via the links below.

What have we learned through this process? That water issues in Alberta are viewed through various lenses – such as social justice, cultural identity, and value – among others. We’ve heard that water issues and First Nations rights are massively intertwined and poised to play a bigger role in the conversation.  We’ve learned that crisis, security, and resilience are top of mind for many Albertans. Also, that people value the work that Project Blue Thumb is doing, and we’ve still got a lot of important work ahead of us.

We invite you to explore Alberta’s water future through these multiple lenses and the many people working to protect our critical water resources.

Article 1: Water & Headwaters as Cultural Identity: Stephen Legault, Hilary Young, and Kim Sturgess on cultural identity.

Article 2: New Water Paradigms: Interviews with Dr. Nick Ashbolt and Shannon Frank.

Article 3: Water Worth: Dr. Vic Adamowicz, Brett Purdy, and Laura Lynes on valuing water.

Article 4: Active Reconciliation: Bill Snow illuminates an Indigenous water context.

Article 5: Municipalities: Keith Ryder, Sofie Forsström, and Dr. Mary-Ellen Tyler on challenges for municipalities.

Article 6: Reflections on Water for Life: Lisa Maria Fox and Brett Purdy reflecting on Alberta’s Water for Life framework.

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