The Watershed Society’s Experience with a Cumulative Effects Project

The Society was represented at the Alberta Lake Management Society annual meeting held in Stony Plain and contributed a talk with this extra long title “A Watershed Stewardship Society’s Experience with a Cumulative Effects Management System (CEMS) Pilot Project“.

The CEMS project, a joint effort of Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) and the inter-municipal Sylvan Lake Management Committee, has been a four year initiative to apply Cumulative Effects theory and the AEP project template to introduce a control system that would attempt to regulate urbanization of the watershed. The SLWSS participated in the first phase of the project to provide technical expertise on water-related topics and environmental risk management.

Sylvan Lake Watershed-GE-2013.v3

SLWSS’ concept of the Sylvan Lake watershed after urbanization is completed

While the CEMS principles are sound and a well established method for monitoring and analyzing environmental problems, the Sylvan Lake project has yet to deliver watershed protection. Here is our experience:

Basic conflicts between the land development goals of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and the environmental objectives of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) limit the scope of potential municipal actions that might protect Sylvan Lake.

  1. While the CEMS principle was simple, the CEMS project management template process was too complicated.
  2. The CEMS project was too time consuming.
  3. The commitment of project participants deteriorated during the four-year term, for a variety of practical reasons.
  4. One of the formal Environmental, Social and Economic pillars was missing. Economic issues were generally ignored, leaving us with just another approach to a State of the Watershed analysis.
  5. As yet, no historical environmental data have been accumulated and applied to control development within the watershed.

The Sylvan Lake watershed will continue to evolve under the control of these two fundamental laws:

  1. Water flows downhill.
  2. Stuff from the land will end up in the lake

No municipal wish list will override nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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