SEAWA’s Community Educational Forum on Water Management, April 5th 2019

by Brooklyn Neubeker

SEAWA hosted its 2019 Spring Forum on Water Management on April 5th, 2019. The forum took place at the Medicine Hat Cultural Centre. Eight speakers from across the prairies spoke about the effect of climate change on water supply (David Sauchyn), the implementation of the water management plan for the SSRB (Mike Murray), SMRID efficiency and water supply (Terrence Lazarus), municipal water protections (Stuart Bonneville, Graeme Dennis, and Paul Kabiru), assessing the cumulative effects of land use and climate change on water supply (Barry Wilson), regulations, laws and protections around water (Jason Unger), providing safe drinking water to rural communities in Kenya (Dave McElhinney), and the Community Renewable Energy Microgrid Demonstration Project at the Medicine Hat College cultural centre (Merl Mayer). These presentations are available on the SEAWA website.

Environmental Utilities, Risk Management Team members Stuart Bonneville, Graeme Dennis, and Paul Kabiru presenting about municipal water protection. Photo by Brooklyn Neubeker.

Although the day was chilly, forum goers took part in a walk around the College Pond during lunch. This walk was led by SEAWA and Grasslands Naturalists member Martha Munz-Gue. Walkers got to identify early spring plants and birds, while avoiding geese nesting around the pond’s edge.

Forum attendees listening to Terrance Lazarus (SMRID) present about increasing irrigation efficiency. Photo by Brooklyn Neubeker.

After his presentation at the end of the day, Merl Mayer gave a tour of the Community Renewable Energy Microgrid Demonstration Project (CREMD) to show interested attendees the different renewable energy technologies he is currently testing and working with. Merl demonstrated his electric car, which he charges both at home and at the cultural centre, the solar panels that supply the power to the chargers and the cultural center, what future technologies will be tested next, and more.

Merl Mayer showing forum attendees the CREMD project at the Cultural Centre. Photo by Natasha Rogers.

Fourty-four individuals attended this Water Management forum including SEAWA members, members of the Grasslands Naturalists, Medicine Hat College students, City of Medicine Hat staff, local landowners, members of the public, and others. Of those who attended, 48% filled out the evaluation form. Of those who filled the evaluation form 90% gained knowledge about the impact of climate change on water supply, 78% gained knowledge about regulations, laws, and current water management plans for surface water in Alberta, 95% gained awareness of the practices by municipalities and irrigation districts to ensure safe drinking water and safe disposal of wastewater, 84% gained knowledge about practices that improve water efficiency, 80% increased their understanding of water quality and quantity in Alberta, 93% gained knowledge about solar energy generation, and 89% were likely to attend future SEAWA events. Respondents left positive comments including “ Really great speakers! Good Job!”, and “I enjoyed the variety of speakers”.

SEAWA would like to thank everyone who attended, presented at, or helped host this forum. Our next forum will be in the Fall of 2019, and we hope to see everyone there!