Responsible Care of Watersheds

Dr. Judy Stewart, an expert on municipal law and the environment has recently published a paper that addresses her title question “Do recent amendments to Alberta’s Municipal Government Act enable management of surface water resources and air quality?

The SLWSS has demonstrated how watershed management could be improved by adoption of the principles of the highly successful Responsible Care program of the global chemical industry that often must operate in urban locations where risk to densely packed populations is real.

The Society first shared our report Responsible Care of Your Watershed with member municipalities of the Sylvan Lake Management Committee in 2011 to demonstrate how active stewardship plus enhanced accountability and transparency could be included in municipal practice.

The focus of our Society’s stewardship initiatives is on the state of the watershed within the red-line hydrological boundary shown in this consolidated topographical and bathymetric map:


Missing from Alberta laws and regulations are standards for stewardship practice. Our first draft of watershed stewardship standards is posted here, based on two decades of experience and active involvement in the Sylvan Lake watershed during which the Society has represented more than 300 members, delivered conservation services of value to the watershed community, intervened at public hearings, characterized risks and liabilities created by lake eutrophication, measured the impact of agricultural land on tributary water quality, and created a GIS mapping system and database to monitor and report on the state of the watershed.

The concept of stewardship standards is new. Adoption of formal standards will embed a voluntary management and compliance structure and public expectations in the statutory Sylvan Lake Inter-municipal Development Plan that is mandated for the watershed.




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