Focus Papers

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About Focus Papers

Throughout the workshop process, members of the Community Outcomes Team were encouraged to request information about topics they wanted to know more about. While the Topic Area Papers were prepared in advance of the workshops, these focus papers were prepared in response to the Team's information needs.

The information presented in the focus papers cuts across a wide array of disciplines and comes from a wide variety of sources, including various governments, organizations and from academe. The information contained in these papers does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries, but is presented for discussion purposes only, to stimulate discussion. At the end of each paper, sources of the information have been identified.
Table of Contents
Focus Papers - Workshop #2 (August 2008)

1. Water, Wetlands and Mining in East Central Alberta
2. Agricultural Production and Food Security in East Central Alberta
3. Transportation Capacity and Infrastructure in East Central Alberta
4. Coal Development and Reclamation in Alberta
5. Air Quality in Alberta
6. Renewable Energy in Alberta
7. Demographic change and the nature of community
8. Impacts of an Aging Population on Community/Public Health
9. Governance models in Alberta and beyond
Focus Papers - Workshop #3 (October 2008)
10. Demographic Trends in East Central Alberta
11. Current and Future Water Use in the North Saskatchewan River Basin
12. Highlights of the Shared Governance Report
13. Renewable Energy in East Central Alberta.
(This paper was updated for presentation in March 2009. See Focus paper #24: Alternatives and Renewable Energy Information for East Central Alberta)
14. Coal Gasification in East Central Alberta
15. Potential Environmental Impacts of Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Process
16. Land Reclamation and Restoration: Challenges and Opportunities
17. Ecological Goods and Services and Agriculture
18. Summary of Land Tenure Statistics for East Central Alberta
Focus Papers - Workshop #4 (November 2008)

19. Ecological Goods and Services (EGS)
Focus Papers - Workshop #5 (December 2008)

20. Farm Size in East Central Alberta
21. Municipal Governance and Planning Structures
Focus Papers - Workshop #6 (January 2009)

22. Paid Off Farm Employment Data for East Central Alberta
23. Biodiversity Basics and Perspectives
Focus Papers - Workshop #7 (February 2009)

No papers were requested or prepared
Focus Papers - Workshop #8 (March 2009)

24. Alternatives and Renewable Energy Information for East Central Alberta
25. The European Union and Alternative Energy Policies
26. Community Resilience
27. Water Management and Allocation Policy

Focus Papers - Workshop #2 (August 2008)

1. Water, Wetlands and Mining in East Central Alberta

1.1. Water Availability and Use in ECA

  • The ECACEP project lies mostly within the Battle River Basin
  • Another watershed of importance for the ECACEP is the North Saskatchewan River Basin
  • Under the Water Act, the Battle River watershed is considered to be a sub-basin of the North Saskatchewan River Basin, one of 7 major river basins in Alberta.

1.1.1. North Saskatchewan River Basin

Source: AMEC Earth & Environmental. 2007. Current and Future Water Use in the North Saskatchewan River Basin. Prepared for North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance.

Surface Water Availability and Use

  • Current annual surface water allocations total about 2 billion m3, or approximately 27% of the river's average annual discharge at the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary (estimated at 7.3 billion m3)
  • Many licensees' actual use volumes are much less than their allocations, and current actual use is 2.6% of the average annual discharge.
  • Both river flow and use vary throughout the year and from year to year.

Sector surface water use

  • 84% of the water allocated in the NSR basin is to the industrial sector, especially thermal power plant cooling processes.
  • Most of the water diverted by the industrial sector is eventually returned to its source, although there are significant losses through evaporation.
  • Most of the water allocated to municipal uses (8%) is eventually returned as treated wastewater.


Actual Use

Industrial 1.660 84 %


49 %
Municipal 0.158 8


Petroleum 0.089 5


Agriculture 0.016 1


Commercial 0.014 1


Other 0.034 2


Totals 1.971 100



Groundwater Availability and Use

  • Groundwater allocations total 0.025 billion m3, little more than 1% of the surface water allocations.
  • Limited data are available on actual groundwater use. The report by AMEC (2007) estimates that current actual use is about 60% of total allocations.

Sector groundwater water use

  • The agricultural sector accounts for 45% of allocations and 54% of use.
  • The municipal sector accounts for 24% of allocations and 15 % of actual use.
  • The petroleum sector accounts for 19% of allocations and 10% of use.

Geographical patterns

  • AMEC's study (2007) identified that 95% of the total water allocations in the NSR basin and 84% of the actual water use are located in the four central sub-basins surrounding the Capital region.

Trends on the North Saskatchewan River Basin

  • Annual surface water use is expected to increase from 0.19 to about 0.26 billion m3 by 2025.
  • Nearly all of the projected increase in surface water use will be in the Petroleum sector (bitumen upgrader and coal gasification projects).
  • Most of the increase in water use will occur in the Capital Region.
  • Annual groundwater use is expected to increase about 13% by 2025.

1.1.2. Battle River Basin

Source: Watrecon Consulting. 2005. Battle River Basin: Water Use Assessment and Projections. Prepared for Alberta Environment.

  • The Battle River Basin (BRB) covers about 25,500 km2 in east Central Alberta.
  • The upper reaches of the basin are situated just west of the Edmonton-Red Deer transportation corridor, near Winfield at Battle Lake.
  • The Battle River eventually joins the North Saskatchewan River at the Town of Battleford in Saskatchewan.
  • The water supply for the BRB is derived entirely from local surface runoff (rain and snow melt) and groundwater flows.
  • Since river flows are primarily dependent on precipitation, there is tremendous variability in annual flows.

  • Based on demographic and economic characteristics, the BRB can be differentiated into three distinct reaches or sub-basins.

Population of the Battle River Basin, by Reach, 2001






% Urban

Upper Basin







Middle Basin





Lower Basin





Battle River Basin





Agriculture in the Battle River Basin, by Reach, 2001

Number of Farms

Average Size

Total Area


% of Total



% of Total

Upper Basin






Middle Basin






Lower Basin






Battle River Basin






Source: Watrecon Consulting, 2005

Surface Water Availability and Use

  • Residents of the BRB rely on water from several sources. The Battle River is the primary surface water source.
  • The average flow at the Saskatchewan border is about 8.992 m3/s (284,240 dam3). Natural flows in the upper basin account for 60% of the flow at the border.
  • Total average surface water use is estimated to be about 19% of average natural flow. More than half of this water use (64%) occurs in the middle and lower basins.


  • Water use during the winter months consumes between a third and a half of natural flows in the Battle River, and increases to 75% in March.
  • Natural flows peak in April and May as a result of spring snow-melt and water use increases significantly as storage reservoirs are filled.
  • Natural flows gradually decline during the late spring and summer months and, at most, water use accounts for about 20% of natural flow.


  • Within the BRB the predominant surface water use in terms of withdrawal is industrial use, particularly the three licences issued for cooling at the ATCO thermal electric power facility near Forestburg. However, 98% of this water is returned to the Battle River after used by ATCO.
  • Agriculture, including irrigation, feedlots and stockwatering, is the second largest use of surface water.
  • Wildlife conservation, which consists mainly of controlling spring run-off on tributary streams to establish wetlands as well as fish ponds, accounts for 30% of water use.
  • The other water uses (municipal and residential use, recreation, water management and other uses) collectively account for only 10% of water use.

Summary of Surface Water Licences in the Battle River Basin, by Sub-Basin

Number of Licences


Water Use

Return Flow


Upper Basin





Middle/Lower Basin

ATCO (cooling)















Lower Basin





Battle River Basin





Source:Watrecon Consulting, 2005

Groundwater Availability and Use

Well density

  • Basin residents also make extensive use of groundwater.
  • In the upper basin there are typically more than 100 wells per township (or 36 miles2). Well densities range between 10 and 100 per township in the middle and lower reaches of the basin.
  • This pattern of well density reflects population density, since population densities are greatest in the upper basin.


  • As of December 2004 there were 1,523 active groundwater licences.
  • These licences allow withdrawals of up to 16,895 dam3 of groundwater, but there are a few comprehensive records or studies that indicate how much of these allocations are actually being used on an annual basis.
  • The majority of groundwater licences have been issued for agricultural purposes, mainly stockwatering.

Source: Watrecon Consulting, 2005

Municipal Water Allocation and Use

  • In 2001, the total population on the BRB was estimated to be about 111,000 people. About 2/3 of basin residents live in cities, towns and villages and draw water from some type of municipal infrastructure.
  • Within the BRB, licences issued to municipalities and others authorize the withdrawal of 22,367 dam3 of water per year for municipal and residential purposes (64% surface water and 36% groundwater).
  • Increased demand for municipal and residential purposes since 1990 has focused on groundwater.
  • While Stettler is located in the BRB, it draws its water from the Red Deer River. Similarly, Viking is now drawing treated water from CU Water Limited's pipeline along Highway 14 which is supplied by EPCOR from the North Saskatchewan River. In the near future, Lacombe and Ponoka will be obtaining treated water from the City of Red Deer.
  • A summary of licence information and municipal water use characteristics is provided in this table:

  • Overall, about 36% of water allocations for municipal and residential purposes can actually be consumed or lost and the balance is returned to surface water bodies in the BRB.
  • According to an analysis of 2004 data conducted by Watrecon Consulting (2005), communities in the BRB are only using a portion of their licensed allocations.
  • On average, municipal water withdrawals in the BRB amounted to about 416 litres per person per day. Allocation utilization was highest for surface water communities in the upper basin (72%) and groundwater users in the middle basin (71%).
  • Importantly, most of the communities in the upper basin, which accounts for the largest population, are currently using between 70 and 79% of their allocations.

Estimated 2004 Municipal Water Withdrawals

Actual withdrawals (dam 3)

% of Allocation

Upper Basin Surface water






Middle/Lower Basin Surface water

Red Deer River








Lower Basin Surface water







Surface water


Red Deer Basin







Source: Watrecon Consulting, 2005

  • Actual water use by municipalities is more difficult to estimate because on uncertainties around wastewater discharge data.

Trends on the Battle River Basin

  • Key sectors driving future use of surface water are population growth in municipalities (particularly upper basin), expansion of livestock populations, and industrial growth other than thermal power production and oilfield injection.
  • Increases in future use of groundwater will be for stockwatering, other industrial use and recreation.

1.2. Implications of Climate Change for Water Availability and Use in ECA

1.2.1. Climate Change in the Prairies

Source: Sauchyn, D. and S. Kulshreshtha et al. (2008) " Prairies" in From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007.

Past and Recent Climate

  • Most weather records in the Prairie Provinces are less than 110 years in length. However, a longer perspective from geological and biological evidence has been assembled.
  • In the Prairies, variations in climate are reflected in changes in vegetation, fluctuations in the level and salinity of lakes, patterns in tree rings, and in the age and history of sand dunes.
  • Soil moisture inferred from tree rings, and lake salinity inferred from diatoms, indicate that the climate of the 20th century was relatively favourable for the European settlement of the Prairies, as it lacked the sustained droughts of preceding centuries.
  • During the period of instrumental record, there was an average increase in temperature of 1.6°C for 12 stations on the Prairies, most with data since 1895. The greatest upward trend is since the 1970s. Spring shows the greatest warming, a trend that extends from Manitoba to northern British Columbia
  • Precipitation data indicate a generally declining trend during the months of November to February, with 30% of the monthly data from 37 stations showing a significant decrease during the period 1949-1989.
  • A favourable consequence of general warming, and of higher spring temperatures in particular, is a warmer and longer growing season.
  • There could be enhanced productivity of forests, crops and grassland, where there is adequate soil moisture.
  • Unfortunately, summertime drying of the earth's midcontinental regions is projected, owing to greater water loss by evaporation and plant transpiration.
  • Declining water levels in closed-basin prairie lakes are evidence that drying is already underway.

Scenarios of Future Climate

  • In the most resent assessment undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it was concluded that there is an increasing body of observations that give a collective picture of a warming world.
  • These observed changes in climate are as a result of a global average surface air temperature increase over the 20th century of about 0.6oC.
  • Global average surface air temperature is projected to increase between 1.4 oC and 5.8oC by 2100, relative to 1990.
  • One way of translating climate changes at the global scale to climate changes at the local scale is to use global climate models (GCMs).
  • GCMs are three-dimensional mathematical models that represent the physical processes of, and the known feedbacks between, the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and land surface.
  • Although advances in computing technology have enabled large increases in the spatial and temporal resolution of GMCs, their model results are still not sufficiently accurate at regional scales to be used directly in impact studies.
  • In this study, climate scenarios for the Prairies were derived from climate change experiments based on seven GCMs and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios.
  • According to this study, the greatest warming in the Prairies is projected to occur in the north and east. These regions are also forecast to have the largest increases in precipitation.
  • Winter warming will reduce snow accumulations in alpine area and across the Prairies, causing declines in annual streamflow and a shift in streamflow timing to earlier in the year, resulting in lower summer water supplies.
  • Continued glacier retreat will exacerbate water shortages already apparent in many areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan during drought years.
  • Drier soils result in decreased subsurface recharge, which willl add to a decline in the water table in many regions.
  • In agricultural regions, droughts could result in enhanced soil erosion and increased sand dune activity. Erosion will increase stream sediment and nutrient loads in local water systems, leading to eutrophication of water bodies and increased pathogen loading in streams during the summer.

1.2.2. Future Climates for Alberta

Barrow, E.M. and Yu. G. 2005. Climate Scenarios for Alberta. A Report Prepared for the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) in co-operation with Alberta Environment. University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Available at

Shen, S. S. P., H.Yin, K. Cannon, A. Howard, S. Chetner, and T.R. Karl. 2005. Temporal and Spatial Changes of the Agroclimate in Alberta, Canada, from 1901 to 2002. Journal of American Meteorological Society, 44:1090-1105.

Alberta's Past Climate

  • Surface air temperatures in Alberta have increased from 1.3 to 2.1oC in the period of 1895 to1991.
  • May - August precipitation increased by 14% from 1901 to 2002. The largest significant increase was in the northern and northwestern Alberta regions, ranging from 30 to 90 mm. A steady increase in May-August precipitation was documented after the 1920s.
  • The 'length of growing season' became 3 to 9 days longer than it was 60 years ago in the southeast corner of the province and 0 to 3 days longer in the Boreal Transition and Aspen Parkland Ecoregions.
  • The areas with sufficient Corn Heat Units are for corn production extended north by 200 to 300 km since the 1910s and 50 to 100 km since the 1940s.
  • Alberta's climatic normals (1901 to 2002) show the western part of the province having a larger increase in precipitation than the eastern part.

Alberta's Future Climate - An Assessment of Five Climate Models - Barrow and Yu (2005)

  • The annual mean temperature is projected to increase between 3oC and 5oC by 2050.
  • The annual precipitation changes will be in the range of -10% to +15% by 2050, however by 2080, annual precipitation is projected to increase up to 15%.
  • Degree-days > 5oC (or, the growing season for plants measured by the difference between the mean daily temperature and the plant growth temperature of 5.5oC), are projected to increase by 30 to 50% by 2050. These increases are driven by a large increase in degree-day totals, rather than by large decreases in precipitation.
  • The annual moisture index (ratio of annual degree day total to annual total precipitation) is projected to increase by 20 to 30% by 2050.
  • By 2050, Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray are projected to experience degree-day totals similar to Lethbridge and Medicine Hat's present degree-day totals.

1.3. Potential impacts of mining on surface and ground water resources

Source: Ptacek, Carol, William Price, J.Leslie Smith, Mark Logsdon and Rob McCandless, "Land use practices and changes - Mining and Petroleum Production," pp. 67-75 in Environment Canada, Threats to Freshwater Availability in Canada. Ottawa: Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada, 2004. <>

  • Although overall impacts may be lower than those of other land uses, such as agriculture and municipalities, mining and petroleum production can have a significant impact locally on water availability for other uses.
  • To gain access to minerals deposits, mines are dewatered using pumping wells and diversion techniques (see Fig. 1 and 2).
  • Water is used to process mineral deposits at the mine site after they are extracted. This water is often recirculated, and as a result many mines are able to minimize water discharge during operation.
  • Waters are primarily discharged to freshwater bodies and undergo little beyond primary treatment. After mineral recovery is complete, previously drained underground workings and open pits refill, further diverting ground and surface water flows.
  • Precise estimates of water intake and discharge associated with mining activities are difficult to obtain because of uncertainties associated with evaporative losses, and gains and losses through subsurface flow during both the active and inactive stages of mining.

Non-metallic Mining Sector

  • Non-metallic mining, including the production of potash and phosphate fertilizers, uranium, crushed sand and gravel aggregate, coal, salt, dimension stone, gypsum, and more recently diamonds, has water requirements. If these operations require water and are located in the semi-arid west, water availability for mine activities can be limiting. This is the case at several potash mines in the Prairies.
  • Coal processing requires water and, although less commonly than metal mines, coal wastes and workings may be a potential source of metal and metalloid leaching and acidic drainage.
  • Water use is more limited in construction aggregate mining compared to other forms of mining. However, these operations may draw down the water table locally, and often require erosion control and sediment retention measures to provide acceptable drainage for discharge.

  • operations require water and are located in the semi-arid west, water availability for mine activities can be limiting. This is the case at several potash mines in the Prairies.
  • Coal processing requires water and, although less commonly than metal mines, coal wastes and workings may be a potential source of metal and metalloid leaching and acidic drainage.
  • Water use is more limited in construction aggregate mining compared to other forms of mining. However, these operations may draw down the water table locally, and often require erosion control and sediment retention measures to provide acceptable drainage for discharge.

Oil and Gas Extraction Sector

  • Large volumes of water are used for the extraction of oil and gas, and much of the water consumed is not available for reuse. Water is primarily used for:

- fluid make-up to maintain formation pressures for production of light crude

- tertiary recovery methods

- extracting heavy crude from oilsands, and

- coalbed methane extraction

  • For the extraction of light crude, both oil and water are pumped to the surface, resulting in a decline in formation pressures. To counteract this decline in pressure, fluid (fresh, brackish, saline or recycled water, or carbon dioxide), is injected downhole.
  • When a well first starts production, the percent of oil recovery can be high, requiring large volumes of fluid for injection to replace or supplement the original formation of oil and water. As the recovery of oil declines, the need for supplemental make-up fluid may also decline.
  • Tertiary methods used for enhanced oil recovery may also require water. Tertiary methods can involve overpressurization techniques, and injection of surfactant solutions, steam and other fluids. If freshwater is consumed for these activities, it usually becomes highly contaminated and is not available for future reuse.
  • Steam from surface and ground water is used to extract oil from oilsand deposits. Approximately three barrels of water are used to extract one barrel of oil. Reuse of water consumed in oilsand processing is limited due to long drainage times from containment facilities and high treatment costs to return the affected water to unrestricted use. Due to the relatively new development of waste containment facilities in the oilsand industry, the volume and quality of contaminated effluent that will discharge is not well known.
  • Coalbed methane production requires dewatering large volumes of rock to increase extraction of methane. This water can be low in quality, ranging from substandard to brackish. The dewatering activities can lead to declines in surface water levels in adjoining water bodies.
  • In humid regions of Canada, petroleum extraction activities typically are not limited by water availability. Effects of water consumption are usually local. Changes in water quality are of primary concern. In contrast, the semi-arid and arid regions of the Prairies face increasingly significant water shortages due to intensification of petroleum production, agriculture and urbanization. For example, the oil and gas industry in Alberta has the rights to 25% of the province's groundwater supply for use in recovering oil from wells.
  • Extraction of oil and gas can also lead to the degradation of groundwater in shallow aquifers from leaks around well casings and pipelines, and shallow disposal of saline formation waters. Considering the large numbers of wells and pipelines in certain regions, these effects can expand from local to regional in scale.

1.4. The wetland connection

1.4.1. Wetlands Values and Functions

Source: Hails, S. 2002. Ptacek. Wetlands Values and Functions. Switzerland: Ramsar Convention Bureau. <>

  • Wetlands are hugely diverse. But whether they are ponds, marshes, coral reefs, peatlands, lakes or mangroves, they all share one fundamental feature: the complex interaction of their basic components - soil, water, animals and plants - that fullfils many functions and provides many products that have sustained humans over the centuries.
  • The multiple roles of wetland ecosystems and their value to society have been increasingly understood and documented in recent years. They include:

1. Flood Control: Wetlands often play a crucial role in flood control. Loss of floodplains to agriculture and human habitation has reduced this capacity. Construction of levees and dams on rivers to improve flood control have often had the reverse effect.

2. Groundwater Replenishment: Many wetlands help recharge underground aquifers that store 97% of the world's unfrozen freshwater.

3. Shoreline Stabilization and Storm Protection: Coastal wetlands play a critical role in many parts of the world in protecting the land from storm surges and other weather events; they reduce wind, wave and current action, and coastal vegetation helps to hold sediment in place.

4. Sediment and Nutrient Retention and Export: Wetlands slow the passage of water and encourage the deposition of nutrients and sediments carried in water. Nutrient retention in wetlands makes them among the most productive recorded, rivalling even intensive agricultural systems. Coastal deltas are dependent on riverine sediments and nutrients for their survival; engineered structures that interfere with the natural movement of sediments and nutrients can degrade deltas

5. Climate Change Mitigation: Wetlands may store as much as 40% of global terrestrial carbon; peatlands and forested wetlands are particularly important carbon sinks.

6. Water Purification: Plants and soils in wetlands play a significant role in purifying water, removing high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous and, in some cases, removing toxic chemicals

7. Reservoirs of Biodiversity: Freshwater wetlands hold more than 40% of the world's species and 12% of all animal species. Wetland biodiversity is a significant reservoir of genes that has considerable economic potential in the pharmaceutical industry and in commercial crop plants such as rice

8. Wetland Products: The list of products from wetlands exploited by humans is immense. Exploitation is carried out at all levels from a commercial scale to cottage industries to subsistence levels. Two thirds of marine fish, for example, rely on coastal wetlands at some stage in their life cycle

9. Recreation and Tourism: Many wetlands are prime locations for tourism; some of the finest are protected as National Parks, World Heritage Sites, Ramsar sites, or Biosphere Reserves. Recreational activities such as fishing, hunting and boating, etc., involve millions of people who spend billions of dollars on their activities. Wetlands offer ideal locations for involving the general public and schoolchildren in hands-on learning experiences, in an essentially recreational atmosphere, to raise awareness of environmental issues.

10. Cultural Value: Although largely an unexplored, poorly documented subject, wetlands are frequently of religious, historical, archaeological or other cultural significance at the local or national level.

1.4.2. Wetlands' role in groundwater recharge

Source: USGS. 2002. Ptacek. Wetlands Values and Functions. Switzerland: Ramsar Convention Bureau. <>

Ewaschuk, E. and C. Smyth. 2003. Wetlands: Productive Members of Society. Prepared for the Alberta Agriculture, Food & Rural Development Public Lands Division, St. Paul. Land Stewardship Centre of Canada.

  • The role that wetland ecosystems play as reservoirs of biodiversity has been particularly advanced as an important environmental value in the last few years (e.g., critical importance of wetlands to migratory birds in North America).
  • This is closely related to the broad range of recreational activities associated with wetlands that generate income locally and nationally, from boating and other water sports to hunting, watching wildlife and even art and literature.
  • From a water availability perspective, however, it is important to gain a better understanding of the role played by wetlands in groundwater recharge.
  • Wetlands are lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water.
  • In the prairie pothole region (PPR) of North America, extending from north-central Iowa to central Alberta, the association between prairie wetlands and groundwater tables is complex and dynamic.

Prairie Pothole Region of North America

Source: USGS (2002)

  • Prairie wetlands are hydraulically connected to water table. Shallow groundwater recharge does not occur over the entire soil surface of the glaciated prairie, only in depressions where water is ponded.
  • Most recharge occurs in spring and early summer before evapotranspiration intercepts seepage outflow from pond

Source: Ewaschuk and Smyth (2003)

  • Benefits of the wetland connection to groundwater recharge include increased soil moisture for crop production, and increased deep aquifer recharge for well water maintenance.
  • This is especially important in rural areas where population is dependent on well/dugout water for domestic use.

1.4.3. An Institutional Perspective on Wetlands

Adger, W. N. and C. Luttrell. 2000. Property rights and the utilisation of wetlands. Ecological Economics 35(1): 75-89.

Kwasiniak, Arlene, 2001. Alberta's wetlands: A Law and Policy Guide. Environmental Law Centre, Edmonton, AB. NAWMP-047. 198 pp.

  • The global area of wetlands has decreased at an ever increasing rate in the course of this century. According to Ewaschuk and Smyth (2003) 71% of wetlands in the Prairie Region have been lost.
  • Wetlands have traditionally been perceived by policy makers as 'wastelands' with no value unless drained. In this context, drainage of wetlands has been encouraged through policy and economic incentives.
  • Wetlands have the unique physical trait of being water dominated, which directly affects their uses and the institutional arrangements that dominate them.
  • As the interface or boundary between several ecosystems, whether it is between marine and terrestrial or lake and forest, wetlands face huge demands for a multitude of uses and functions which often results in conflict between different users.
  • The coexistence of contrasting communal and individual rights to resources, even within the same community, is a common feature.
  • Furthermore, as a non-fixed resource that moves in and out of geographical boundaries, the definition of wetlands in terms of private property can become problematic, and even controversial.
  • In Alberta, the provincial Crown owns all water in the province, including water in wetlands. It does not matter whether a wetland is permanent or intermittent, the Crown owns the water in it and the right to divert and generally disturb it.
  • Although the Crown owns the water in a wetland, the surrounding land, and the bed and shores of non-natural or non-permanent wetlands can be owned privately.
  • In this type of institutional context, the consideration of the co-existence of private property rights and public interest in wetlands protection may be a critical factor for the successful conservation of wetlands.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment - North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance

2. Agricultural Production and Food Security in East Central Alberta

2.1. Agricultural Production in Alberta

  • Alberta uses about 52 million acres, or about 33 percent of the provincial land base (158 million acres) for agricultural production.
  • Out of Alberta's total farmland, about 24 million acres, or 46 percent, is used for crop production.
  • The province has about 31 percent of Canada's farmland and only 10 percent of the national population; compare this to Ontario, which has 8.2 percent of Canada's farmland and over 38 percent of the national population.
  • Alberta's grain output fluctuates based on growing conditions and market demand. For example, Alberta produced 15.0 million tonnes in 2003 compared to 17.0 and 18.2 million tonnes in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

Average Production of Major Commodities Produced In Alberta


Production (Metric Tonnes)

(1996 - 2006 Average)









Beef and Veal




2.1.1 Agricultural Production in East Central Alberta

  • The highly productive nature of the soil in the east central region supports a wide range of crop options and generally high yields.
  • By area, the east central region's greatest contributions to Alberta's agriculture industry are canola (12 percent) and wheat (9 percent).
  • Barely, alfalfa, cattle and hog production are also present.

Summary of Agriculture in the East Central Region by Area

Commodity Alberta Beaver County Camrose County Flagstaff County
Wheat (ha) 2,617,356 58,825

(2.2% share)*


(2.8% share)


(4.1% share)

Canola (ha) 1,646,468 49,197

(3% share)


(4.4% share)


(4.4% share)

Barley (ha) 1,657,062 22,294

(1.3% share)


(2% share)


(2.3% share)

Cows / calves (head) 6,369,116 65,244

(1% share)


(1.5% share)


(1.4% share)

Hogs (head) 2,052,067 26,671

(1.3% share)


(1.3% share)

From: 2006 Census of Agriculture

* All percentages refer to a county's total area (hectares) used to produce a particular commodity compared to Alberta's total area (hectares) used to produce that particular commodity. NOTE that production or export figures specific to each county are not available.

** Suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

Average Yields (1997 - 2006) for Alberta and Census Divisions 7 and 10

Area All Wheat (bushels/acre) Canola (bushels/acre) Barley (bushels/acre)
Census Division 7 (Flagstaff County makes up about 21% of this Census Division) 33.8 25.4 49.0
Census Division 10 (Beaver and Camrose Counties make up about 32.5% of this Census Division) 37.5 28.6 56.0
Alberta 39.2 28.8 58.0
  • From: Alberta Agriculture Statistics Yearbook, 2006
  • All values are calculated averages over a ten year period (1997-2006)
  • Average yields specific to each county are not available

  • While the average yields for Census Division 10 (containing Beaver and Camrose Counties) are close to the provincial average with respect to wheat, canola and barley, Census Division 7 (containing Flagstaff County) is slightly to moderately below the provincial yields for all three commodities, most notably with respect to barley (about 9 bushels/acre below the provincial average).

2.2. Uncertainties for Agricultural Production in East Central Alberta

Agriculture Industry Drivers

  • The amount of land in pasture and crops is viewed as being very stable over time. Decisions are made based upon the returns and the production choices between crops. Pasture land decisions are based on prices and opportunity costs of land in crops.


  • Cow calf operations vary greatly in size from small to large. Off farm income plays an important role in many agricultural sectors but is especially important for small cow calf operations.


  • Alberta has very little to no impact on prices for the vast majority of the crops that are produced in this region, as price is established by global supply and demand balance.


  • There is not a large feedlot presence in this area. Most of the cattle feeding and finishing is conducted in the southern portion of the province.
  • Some larger feedlots are located in the counties east of this region. This industry has been built around clusters and it is expected that the trend toward feedlots in southern Alberta will continue.
  • There is a need for large amounts of land for silage and waste management. Irrigation produces higher silage yields and there is a cluster effect due to packing plant locations in the south.


  • The area has a number of large hog barns including some of those from the Alberta Pig Company. These are capital, land and water intensive, large scale operations. Location drivers are water, permitting sites, labour, and access and to feed and markets. There are some growth prospects for hogs in the more rural parts of the region.
  • Overall the lack of labour in the western economies, and particularly Alberta, challenge the availability for the agri-food primary and processing sectors.
  • Beef and pork at the current time are challenged by the change in exchange rates. It will take some time to adjust to the higher value of the Canadian currency.

Other Livestock

  • Poultry and dairy are also present in the area, and also have the same concerns with water and land usage. Expansion in these industries is aligned with domestic markets through supply management.

Population and Demographic Observations

  • The population in the more urban areas of the east central, such as Tofield and Camrose, have increased. However, populations in some of the rural communities such as Bashaw and Viking have decreased slightly. The most notable decrease in population is in the County of Flagstaff, where the population decreased by about 14.5 percent from 1991 to 2006.
  • Overall, the change in the region's population increased 5 percent from 1991-2006. It is difficult to extrapolate the population growth rate in the medium term as the overall provincial economy can be impacted by the oil and gas sectors.
  • The migration of people to urban areas is expected to continue, making livestock operations which are land and water intensive, a challenge for locating in populated areas.
  • As the market value of land increases for non-agricultural uses, the conversion of agricultural land to other uses becomes more common and increasingly difficult to manage, particularly in the urban fringes.
  • The increase in the average age of operators is expected to continue due to fewer young people entering the market.

Water and Agricultural Use

  • Water may become less available to agriculture regardless of climate change due to a mismatch in available supply and demand and competing uses - especially in the east central region where surface water is generally limited.
  • There is high variability in annual flows for rivers in this area, making water management an ongoing challenge.
  • Within the Battle River Basin, agriculture is the second largest user of surface water (22 percent) after industrial water use. This includes irrigation, feedlots and stock watering.
  • By 2030, some studies project an increase of water use of 18 percent from current levels for agricultural purposes in this region, in part due to expanding livestock populations in the Battle River Basin.
  • Carrying capacities of pastureland could decrease with increased water constraints, requiring management adaptation.

Climate Change

  • Climate change models suggest an increase of 3 to 4 degrees in the annual mean temperature and an increase of 0-10 percent in annual precipitation for the east central region by 2040-2060.
  • It is difficult to predict impact of climate change in Alberta because an increase in the average annual temperature of 3 degrees could decrease yields by 2-9 percent of "traditional" crops grown in Alberta. This, however, could be offset by longer growing seasons.
  • Studies suggest increased climate variability and more frequent extreme events, such as flooding and droughts, leading to an increase in yield variability.
  • Extreme cold acting as a limit on pests and diseases may decrease as winters become milder.
  • If drought does become more common, drought resistant crops such as millet, chickpeas and sorghum may become more common while barley production may decrease. Drought resistant crops are typically higher in value than the ones they may replace. For this reason the net effect on farm income and program payment requirements is difficult to project.
  • Effects of CO2 "fertilization" and a longer growing season may increase yields in specific crops, but also may result in increased weed growth. Agriculture will have to adapt to this reality but the timeframe over which this will occur is unknown as it depends on global pollutant policy and mitigation methods.

Agricultural Opportunities Resulting from Climate Change

Agricultural Challenges Resulting from Climate Change

Net Impacts on Agriculture Resulting from Climate Change

  • Longer growing season / shorter and milder winter
  • Innovative crop selection, higher value crops and new farming practices

  • Increased frequency of extreme weather events
  • Water shortages
  • Greater potential for more disaster relief
  • Depends heavily on effectiveness of adaptation
  • Could be influenced by trade linkages with the rest of the world as other countries adopt new policies to deal with climate change
  • Still largely unknown

2.3. Agricultural Exports in Alberta and the East Central Region

  • Alberta accounts for 20.8 percent of total Canadian agri-food exports and is the second largest exporting province after Ontario.
  • In 2007, Alberta exports were at an all time high value of $6.6 billion (up 13.8 percent from 2006).
  • East Central Alberta contributes about 9 percent to Alberta's wheat share and about 12 percent to Alberta's canola share by area, and therefore the economy of the region is tied into the value of the exports.
  • Generally, declines in the value of livestock exports have largely been moderated by strong growth in crop export values.
  • Given the central location of the east central region, it is likely that this area will benefit from the substantial economic growth that is taking place in Alberta.

Alberta's Top Five Agricultural Exports - 2007


Quantity of Export (Tonnes)

Value of Export

($ billion)

Percent of Total Production

















NOTE: Export figures specific to each county are not available.


  • East Central Alberta has approximately 9 percent of Alberta's wheat, 12 of Alberta's canola and 5.5 percent of Alberta's barley by area.
  • Alberta:
    • Wheat is currently Alberta's number one export product. Wheat exports have risen by 31.5 percent in value from 2006 to 2007. This includes a large increase in price.
    • Rising value of wheat is linked to rising global demand relative to supply.
    • Major wheat markets include USA, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Iraq
    • The volume of canola production increased by 180 percent in Alberta from 2002 to 2006. Canola is also benefitting from higher prices and the value of exports rose 29 percent from 2006 to $923 million.
    • Japan, Mexico, China and USA are Alberta's largest canola markets
    • Value of barley exports has risen 80 percent since 2006, largely driven by a decreased worldwide supply


  • East Central Alberta has approximately 4 percent of Alberta's share of cattle and 3% of Alberta's share of hogs (by head).
  • Alberta:
    • Alberta's beef exports fell 3 percent in value from 2006 to $887 million, while quantity increased by 2.1 percent
    • Decline in beef export value is largely attributed to lower exports to the United States, Alberta's major market for beef.
    • Pork exports are also down, declining 18.4 percent in value to $346 million. Although volumes of pork exports have increased 100 percent from 2002 (65,536 tonnes) to 2007 (130,679 tonnes), volumes have actually decreased by 18 percent from 2006 (159,132 tonnes) to 2007 (130,679 tonnes).

2.3.1. Uncertainties Facing Alberta's Agri-Food Export Market

  • Level of the Canadian exchange rate to the US and other currencies is largely determined by factors outside of agriculture.
  • Labour availability for the agriculture sector must compete with other sectors and/or use temporary foreign workers.
  • Alberta is no longer a low cost feed area. Re-establishing the competitiveness for the livestock, meats and processing sectors requires innovation and new solutions.
  • Uncertainty around Mandatory Country Of Origin Labelling requirements will be a challenge to producers and processors initially.
  • Agriculture technology is more rapidly dispersed around the world.
  • Opportunities are developing in new markets with rising population and incomes
  • South America is competitive in many markets and land area and productivity are still rising.
  • The crop sector is facing higher prices, higher profitability and higher input costs. It is difficult to predict how long the higher global grain and oilseed prices will persist. Higher energy and fertilizer prices are expected to persist for some time.
  • The return of inflationary pressures provides new areas of concern in macro economics of the world.
  • Slowdown of economy in the United States - our number one trading partner.
  • Difficult to mitigate effects of economic "shocks" due to integration of world markets.

2.4. Agricultural Imports in Alberta

  • In 2007, fruit and vegetables were Alberta's top imported items ($427 million).
  • Other major imports include cereal preparations and oilseed cake and meal.
  • Although Alberta imported a total of $1.6 billion of agri-food products in 2007, the value of its exports was more than four times higher than that amount ($6.6 billion) during the same period.

2.5. Food Security in Alberta

  • Between 1996 and 2006, the number of operations producing agricultural commodities in Alberta has decreased from 59,007 to 49,431. Yet, production continues to increase.
  • With advances in technology, a large land base and highly skilled producers, Alberta has substantial capacity to expand agricultural production beyond the current level of output.
  • From 1997-1999, the average person living in an industrialized country consumed 88.2 kg/meat/year. During the 1990s, annual cereal consumption was 317 kg/person/year (world demand basis). Alberta produces far more grains and oilseeds (5,616 kg) and meat (367 kg) per person/year than any one individual can consume in a year. Therefore, the province exports a significant proportion of its production.
  • In 2006, Alberta households spent an average of $7,449 on food, representing 8.7 percent of the total household expenditure. Compare Alberta's figures with rural Sub-Saharan Africa, where a typical household spends 71 to 86 percent of its budget on food.
  • About 97.9 percent of Alberta's agriculture producers depend on an export market that spreads over 60 countries. The WTO is the best mechanism to create market access to allow continued growth for Alberta's agriculture industry.
  • With current production capacity and the potential for expansion if needed, food security will not be an issue in Alberta in any foreseeable future.

Alberta Agriculture. 2008. Agriculture Statistics Factsheet.

Alberta Agriculture. 2008. Agri-Food Exports: Alberta 1998 to 2007.

Alberta/Canada Meat Production Estimates (1980 -2007).2008. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Economics and Competitiveness Division, Statistics and Data Development Unit, Alberta Environment . Facts About Climate Change.

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. 2008. Climate Change in Alberta.$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/cl11297

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. 2008. World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Negotiations.$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/psc12230.

Anderson, M. and Associates Ltd. 2008. Policy Implications of Long Term Climate Change on Crop Production in Alberta. Sherwood Park, Alberta.

Natural Resources Canada. 2008. Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation.

Natural Resources Canada. 2008. The Atlas of Canada: Climate Warming.

Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative. 2008. Climate Change Impacts on Canada's Prairie Provinces: A Summary of our State of Knowledge.

Smithers, J. and Smit. B. 1997. Human adaptation to climatic variability and change; Global Environmental Change, v. 73, no. 3, p.129-146.

Statistics Canada. 2006. Catalogue no. 21-015: Direct payments to agriculture producers - Agriculture Economic Statistics. p. 28-31.

Statistics Canada. 2006 Census of Agriculture. Farm Data and Farm Operator Data Tables, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006.

Statistics Canada. Alberta Agricultural Statistics Yearbook. 2006.

Watrecon Consulting. 2006. Battle River Basin: Water Use Assessment and Projections. Edmonton, Alberta.

World and Canadian Food Price Inflation and Food Insecurity. June 13, 2008.

Presentation for Federal-Territorial-Provincial Assistant Deputy Ministers.

World Health Organization. 2008. Global and Regional Consumption Patterns and Trends.

Prepared by:
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

3. Transportation Capacity and Infrastructure in East Central Alberta

3.1. Overview

  • Originally the major transportation routes in this area were by rail. The highway system subsequently developed serving the same markets which resulted in virtually all east-west highways in the study area, paralleling the railways.
  • Strategic river crossing were established at historical locations which further defined the highway network.
  • Transportation is a major economic enabler, so from a human geography perspective it is no surprise that the current transportation network reflects migration, settlement and major economic influences.
  • As economic activity flourish and waned community populations changed which significantly impacted transportation requirements and priorities.

3.2. Current Strategy and Policy

  • Generally status-quo on existing highway network in the study area over the next 20 to 30 years.
  • There are no specific initiatives for East Central Alberta as the majority of the traffic growth is relatively small compared to many other areas in the province.
  • There may be some minor alignment changes and localized capital improvement to address safety or operational concerns.
  • Design standards require a minimum of 10,000 vehicles per day to be considered for twinning. In practice highways typically have grown to 12-14,000 by the time twinning is actually constructed. The majority of highways in the study area have significantly less at approximately 1500 to 5000 vehicles per day and therefore twinning is generally not warranted.
  • Capital improvements on the provincial highway network will be identified based on site specific conditions and will be programmed for delivery subject to overall provincial priorities.
  • Any capital improvements required to the provincial network due to specific developments are the responsibility of the developer and/or the development approving authority (rural or urban municipality)
  • Consideration for converting existing gravel provincial highways to paved surfacing will be based on overall network requirements and expectation for significant growth in traffic.

3.3. Unknowns

  • Long term land use and opportunities for major economic activities which may significantly increase traffic demands in the ECACEP area.
  • The price of fuel has already made a measureable change in trip generation across the provincial network. Further fuel price increases and increased environmental consciousness may cause additional decreases in traffic demand.
  • Technological changes may enable more work to be done remotely which will affect trip generation.

3.4. Future Directions

  • Alberta Transportation is in the process of finalizing a long range transportation master-plan for the provincial highway network. There should be no surprises and is consistent with what has been communicated here. This plan will be a living document, is expected to be updated or refreshed on a regular basis and will reflect any significant proposed traffic generators.
  • It is Alberta Transportation's position that the existing and future highway network will accommodate growth across the network

Prepared by:
Alberta Transportation

4. Coal Development and Reclamation in Alberta

4.1. Coal Mining in Alberta' East Central Region

4.1.1. The Coal Resource in East Central Alberta Today

  • The study area hosts a wide swath of Horseshoe Canyon Formation coals extending from Tofield south to Castor in the County of Paintearth. The Energy Resources Conservation Board has designated two coalfields in this area: the Tofield-Dodds Coalfield and the Battle River Coalfield.
  • Within the study area, the Tofield-Dodds Coalfield has been assigned reserves of over 1.1 billion tonnes of combined surface and underground mineable coal, while the Battle River Coalfield is estimated to have over 450 million tonnes of combined surface and underground mineable coal.
  • These coal resources are ranked as subbituminous and significant reserves are found under shallow overburden, making them suitable for surface mining. Subbituminous coals are primarily used in Alberta for generating electricity, cement manufacture and domestic or agricultural purposes.
  • There is one mine operating within the study area. The Dodds mine produces in the range of 75-100,000 tonnes of coal per year, in a variety of sizes for its domestic and agricultural customers.
  • Coal ownership throughout the study area is a checkerboard mixture of freehold and Crown titles.

4.1.2 History

  • Coal has been mined in the study area since the early 1900s, both from underground and surface operations.
  • Some of the more productive historical mines in the area were operated by the Tofield Coal Company, Black Nugget Coal, Burnstad Coal, Red Flame Coal and Camrose Collieries. All of these mines have been closed for many years.
  • The Dodds Mine has operated since 1909 and is the last of the many small coalmines that once operated across Alberta, supplying coal to the local communities and farms.

4.1.3 Current Trends, Opportunities for Growth and Development, and Uncertainties

  • Increasing natural gas prices in the last few years convinced many farm and greenhouse operations to convert their heating needs to coal. Much of this demand in East Central Alberta is filled by the Dodds mine and this demand is expected to continue as long as natural gas prices remain high.
  • Subbituminous coal has a lower energy content and value than other Alberta coals from the mountains and foothills, consequently large volumes of the resource are not usually transported long distances and surface mining will be the preferred recovery method. Larger coal developments, such as generating or gasification plants, will be situated close to the mine.
  • The opportunities for subbituminous coal (the type found in East Central Alberta) will most likely be in gasification and electricity generation. For gasification to be economic, natural gas prices need to remain at the levels seen in the last few years.
  • An issue for coal development, whether in gasification or electricity generation, will be carbon emissions management. Coal has the highest carbon content of any of the hydrocarbons and any new developments will need to capture and store carbon dioxide.

4.1.4 Coal gasification

  • Sherritt International Corporation has announced it plans to develop Canada's first commercial coal gasification, the Dodds-Roundhill Coal Gasification Project. The proposed project will include a surface coal mine and a coal gasification facility located just south of the town of Tofield and village of Ryley and north of the hamlet of Round Hill. The company has not yet filed applications for regulatory approval (July 2008).
  • The gasification process converts coal into a synthesis gas composed primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel to generate electricity or steam, or used as a basic chemical building block for a large number of uses in the petrochemical and refining industries.
  • The syngas can also be processed using commercially available technologies to produce a wide range of products, fuels, chemicals, fertilizer or industrial gases such as hydrogen.
  • Gasification adds value to low-value feedstocks by converting them to higher-value marketable fuels and products.

4.1.5. Implications for Coal Resource Development in East Central Alberta

  • A large portion of the coal in East Central Alberta is held by Sherritt International Corporation, either as titled minerals or Crown lease holdings. Future development of the coal resources in East Central Alberta will therefore depend considerably on the plans of Sherritt for its large Alberta coal holdings and where the East Central Alberta resources fit into its overall business plans.
  • Sherritt's proposed project includes the possibility that the proposed development could be significantly expanded in scope, possibly doubling the size of the operation. Beyond Sherritt's plans however, no developments are seen on the horizon.
  • There have been no representative sales of coal lands in Alberta recently, therefore a current market value of the coal within East Central Alberta cannot be determined at this time.
  • Qualitatively, the coal resource is quite valuable as the Tofield-Dodds and Battle River coal fields are both very large, easily capable of sustaining gasification or electricity developments for many decades.
  • The Sherritt proposal for a gasification facility at Tofield seems quite likely to proceed, subject to the company obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals. Additional developments are possible, but it is very difficult to predict if any will occur. There are other large coal fields in Alberta which may be considered more highly depending on their location or the use that will be made of the coal. Additionally, carbon dioxide management will be an important consideration in any future uses of coal.

4.2. Reclamation Strategies for Coal Mining in Alberta

4.2.1 Introduction

  • East Central Alberta is one of the most intensively cultivated and populated sub-regions of Alberta.
  • In addition to agricultural development, the region has a number of other resource developments, some of which include:

- Conventional petroleum exploration and development, including heavy oil development;

- Open pit coal mining; and

- Sand and Gravel extraction

  • Alberta Environment administers the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) under which many land based activities are regulated and protected. Land utilized for specified industrial activities (commonly called specified land), including coal mining, must be developed and reclaimed in an environmentally sound manner, as further regulated by the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation.
  • In this context, there are several factors that may determine the future landscape after coal mining in East Central Alberta:

- equivalent land capability concept;

- the balanced approach to reclamation in Alberta;

- future land use policy direction (e.g. Land-use Framework, Wetland policy, etc).

4.2.2 Equivalent Land Capability Concept

  • A central tenet to the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation is the concept of Equivalent Land Capability (ELC). This concept advances the idea that the ability of the land to support various land uses after conservation and reclamation should be similar to the ability that existed prior to an activity being conducted on that land, although individual land uses need not be necessarily identical.
  • Traditionally, however, ELC has been considered to meanreclaiming disturbed lands to an equivalent or better state than before disturbance. With many of Alberta's plains mines, the pre-disturbance condition has been agricultural production or partially forested-pasture setting. Pre-disturbance conditions have also included undisturbed forested and wetland/riparian areas.
  • Proponents of mine developments traditionally use the Canadian Land Classification ( for determining land capability for agriculture as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment/Application process. This information is usuallypresented on a percentage basis, which translates into post-development targets for each type of land use to be reclaimed. Municipal land use zoning policiesare also factored into the regulatory process for reclamation.
  • Currently, post-development reclamation decisions are becoming more collaborative and consider a blend of land use targets, instead of the more traditional approach of returning all reclaimed land to agriculture. The major driving factor for reclamation is still to achieve agriculturally supportive lands,however the lossesassociated with riparian corridors, wetlands or waterbodies are also taken into account as part of the assessment of disturbance.
  • In light of future wetland policy, "no net loss" and compensation guidelines, cumulative effects considerations, the Land-use Framework, and evolving public values and pressures, Alberta may need to balance land use losses to establish riparian corridors or wetland areas.
  • Within the current governance context, such balanced reclamation decisions could be made by application review team members (including the Water Act personnel, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act team, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development in some circumstances), external parties, industry, and municipalities.

4.2.3 The Balanced Approach to Reclamation in Alberta


  • In the pre-to-post development landscape considered in issuing a reclamation certification, Alberta focuses on the landscape involving soil profiles/vegetation, as well as examining the changes to surface water, groundwater, and any issues related to air.
  • One of the most common examples of balanced reclamation on the plains of Alberta is the general acceptance of a reclaimed End Pit Lake (EPL).
  • EPL's are often supplemented by the creation of small waterbodies or a certain number of dugouts per reclaimed quarter sections. The intent is that reclaimed lands can provide more than one agricultural land use (e.g. rotational agricultural production and cattle pasturing).
  • An example of a successful EPL in Alberta is the Whitewood Mine's east pit lake near Wabamun. The creation of the lake has provided broad benefits and values including: wildlife and waterfowl use/propagation, recreational fisheries, public utilization, and forested lands.
  • Another successful aspect of reclamation at the Whitewood Mine was related to the issue of groundwater dewatering, which was a concern to adjacent land users.
  • Coal seams are progressively dewatered prior to mine advance to address safety and construction issues. The majority of Alberta's plains mine operators have a policy that reflects a cone of depression influence and a radius of impact in which they must comply with groundwater evaluation guidelines and mitigate dewatering issues with adjacent landowners. The radius of impact is generally one kilometre, however it can be larger.
  • In the case of Whitewood mine, as mining progressed, ground water parameters did return close to pre-development conditions generally within the same period dewatering was taking place (e.g. if groundwater was pumped for three years, then the groundwater parameters return to normal within three years).

Agriculture Land Use

  • Alberta promotes a "progressive reclamation" approach, which means returning the land to an immediate use (e.g. agricultural, water management, wildlife development, etc). The operator's mine reclamation security, which is a legislated requirement in Alberta, is assessed annually and can be reduced with successful progressive reclamation (e.g. full cost of reclamation security).
  • While coal mine reclamation occurs at varying rates, the plains mines often progress faster than foothills and mountain mines. Plains mines are mined in a linear way, and the coal has a flat distribution, whereas foothills and mountain mines have more overburden, topographical variability, greater haul distances, and type of equipment used.
  • Plains mine reclamation typically begins with replacing salvaged subsoil and topsoil and then planting a forage/hay crop for a number of years to build up nitrogen and to reduce compaction. Eventually, cereal crops can be successfully planted.
  • The type of crop planted in the first season can vary depending upon the priority crop, seasonal influences, fertilizer management routine, etc. At the Whitewood mine, for example, cereal crops were planted for the first few years prior to shifting to hay cropping.

4.2.4 Future Land Use Policy Direction

  • Prior to the No Net Loss Compensation guidelines, wetlands were filled in or removed. Today, Alberta Environment requires and enforces 3:1 compensation ratio for wetlands to achieve immediate compensation for wetlands lost to development. This is an step toward a more balanced reclaimed landscape, which will be further developed though the Wetland Policy currently being developed by the Government of Alberta.
  • The latest draft of the provincial Land-use Framework is currently out for public comment. The Framework proposes to divide the province into six regions and to develop an integrated regional plan for each. The Framework also proposes to adopt a cumulative effects approach that includes the impacts of new and existing activities within each regional plan. The intent is to balance environmental, social and economic outcomes for a region.
  • Considered a priority for Alberta Environment, the assessment and management of cumulative effects associated with developments are to be supported by a cumulative effects management framework. This management framework, currently under development, will support the regional plans developed under the Land use Framework, as well as the activities advanced by a renewed Water for Life Strategy.
  • The Industrial Heartland (IH) Project and the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project are two of the prototypes informing both the development of the Cumulative Effects Management Framework and the Land Use Framework.

4.2.5 Current examples of mining and reclamation in Alberta

  • The Whitewood Mine 2007 annual report lists the following statistics:

o Area Disturbed 1848.3 hectares

o Area Reclaimed 1370.3 hectares (74% of area disturbed)

o Area Certified 890 hectares

  • The Paintearth Mine 2007 annual report lists the following statistics:

o Area Disturbed 1708.3 hectares

o Area Reclaimed 1036.0 hectares (permanent) (60% of area disturbed)

o Area certified 211.5 hectares

  • Dodds Coal Mine: The Dodds Coal Mine develops the coal in linear strips, and has the ability to reclaim behind itself as it progresses. Having been in operation for close to a century, the Dodds Coal Mine is largely completed and is undertaking final reclamation of the disturbance. Current plans include a golf course/recreational area.

Prepared by:
Alberta Energy - Alberta Environment - Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

5. Air Quality in Alberta

5.1. Air Quality Index (AQI)

  • The Air Quality Index is a numerical value that describes the quality of the outdoor air in Alberta. The index is based on the concentration of the following five major pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and sulphur dioxide.
  • Hourly concentrations of these pollutants from 22 stations in the province are used to calculate the AQI. This value is converted into four air quality categories - Good, Fair, Poor and Very Poor. The current Alberta target is to maintain "good" air quality at least 97 per cent of the time in urban areas, with no "poor" air quality events.
  • Air quality in Alberta cities is Good over 90% of the time, according to the AQI. The index will occasionally reach into the Fair range (less than 10% of the time). Poor and Very Poor air quality conditions are rare in Alberta.
  • Weather conditions can contribute to adverse air quality conditions. During the winter and fall occurrence of a combination of deep temperature inversions and light winds will often create a layer of cold, stagnant air near the ground. Also, vehicles tend to idle longer and fuel consumption for heating buildings increases during cold spells. Combustion products emitted are trapped in this layer of cold, stagnant air.
  • Forest fire events in Alberta or neighbouring provinces can cause episodes of Poor and Very Poor air quality due to smoke being transported into urban centers. This impacts the AQI with elevated levels of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5).
  • In the summer, under hot, calm weather conditions, photochemical smog can be formed through a complicated set of chemical reactions involving oxides of nitrogen and volatile hydrocarbons in the presence of sunlight. Photochemical smog has a noticeable light brown colour, and can reduce visibility and trigger a respiratory response. Ground-level ozone is a component of major concern in photochemical smog.

5.2. Long-term Trends

  • Over the past two decades, there have been a number of improvements and air quality control and monitoring technologies. These improved technologies have lead to improvements in air quality, especially in urban centres. In fact, levels of many air pollutants have shown significant declines over the past two decades:
  • Carbon monoxide concentrations have decreased by 61% in downtown Edmonton and 65% in downtown Calgary from 1982 to 2000. Annual average carbon monoxide values have decreased by 30 to 60% at other urban monitoring stations in Alberta.
  • Nitrogen dioxide concentrations have decreased by 32% in downtown Edmonton and 38% in downtown Calgary from 1982 to 2000. Annual average nitrogen dioxide levels have decreased by as much as 17% at other urban monitoring stations in Alberta.
  • Inhalable particulate (PM10) values have decreased by 44% at the Edmonton Central station and 46% at the Calgary Central station from 1986 to 1999. Respirable particulate (PM2.5) levels have decreased by 38 and 50%, respectively, at these two locations over the same time period.
  • Benzene concentrations have decreased by 52% in downtown Edmonton (1992 to 2000) and 30% in downtown Calgary (1991 to 2000). Annual average benzene levels have decreased by 51% at the Edmonton East monitoring station from 1991 to 2000. VOC monitoring began in the early 1990s at these monitoring stations.
  • Lead concentrations have decreased by 96% in downtown Edmonton and 98% in downtown Calgary (from 1980 to 1992). Because of very low concentrations, monitoring for lead was discontinued in 1992.
  • Sulphur dioxide concentrations have increased by about 2.2 times at the Edmonton East monitoring station from 1982 to 2000 and decreased by 26% over the same time period at the Fort McMurray station. Other significant trends in sulphur dioxides levels are not evident at Alberta Environment monitoring stations. It is expected that these trends are due to changes in industrial emissions over the last two decades. The annual average sulphur dioxide concentration measured in 2000 at the Edmonton East station (0.002 ppm) remains well below the annual Objective of 0.010 ppm.

5.3. Air Quality Initiatives

  • Currently, Alberta Environment manages air quality on an individual pollutant basis, with Air Quality Objectives, Management Frameworks or regulations.
  • The AQI is predominantly driven by fine particulate matter and ozone concentrations. Alberta and other provinces have committed to significantly reducing particulate matter and ground-level ozone by 2010 under the Canada-Wide Standards (CWS) for PM and Ozone.
  • In Alberta, the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) developed a framework that sets out four levels of action for achieving the Canada-Wide Standards. Alberta Environment is working with stakeholders to develop air quality management plans for particulate matter and ozone in the Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary areas.
  • CASA has endorsed a Comprehensive Air Quality Management System (CAMS) for the province. The CAMS promotes the locally-driven establishment of airshed zones to address local air quality issues when and where appropriate.
  • An airshed zone can enable local stakeholders to design local solutions to address local air quality issues. Airshed zones are guided by local or regional multi-stakeholder non-profit societies who use the CASA consensus model to make decisions.
  • These societies work within a designated area to monitor, analyze, and report on air quality and they recommend and implement actions to improve air quality within that zone. Stakeholders involved in airshed zone management may also develop a response or management plan to deal with air quality concerns in their region.
  • Airshed zones typically implement air quality monitoring programs within its designated area and supply data to the CASA data warehouse at
  • There are seven airshed zones now operating in Alberta:

1. Lakeland Industry and Community Association: Bonnyville, Cold Lake, St. Paul and region

2. Fort Air Partnership: Fort Saskatchewan and region

3. Palliser Airshed Society: Medicine Hat and Redcliffe

4. Parkland Airshed Management Zone: Red Deer, Rocky Mountain House, Sundre, Banff and surrounding regions

5. Peace Airshed Zone Association: Grande Prairie and region

6. West Central Airshed Society: Jasper, Hinton, Edson, Lake Wabamun, Drayton Valley, Pigeon Lake and surrounding regions

7. Wood Buffalo Environmental Association: Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region

  • Contact CASA if you have an interest in forming a zone for your locality.

5.4. Air Quality in East Central Alberta

5.4.1 Current Situation

There are currently five mandated industry continuous stations in the East Central Alberta area:

1. CNRL Holmberg sour gas plant - sampling 3 months/year,

2. AltaGas Sedgewick sour gas plant - sampling 2 months/year,

3. Signalta Forestburg sour gas plant - sampling 2 months/year,

4. ATCO Battle River power plant (2 stations) - sampling 12 months/year.

The three gas plants monitor for Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Battle River sites monitor for Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and SO2.

  • The data analyzed for the East Central Alberta project area to date has not triggered a need to deal with acute issues in the area.
  • Although there has been some site specific data collected by Alberta Environment for East Central Alberta, the data has not yet been analyzed to provide a picture of trends or overall long term air quality in the area.
  • Other agencies such as Environment Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development have collected data on air quality and weather that is available on-line.

5.4.2 Change factors and major initiatives

  • CASA has identified the Edmonton Metropolitan Area, the Edmonton-Calgary Highway 2 Corridor, and the Calgary Metropolitan Area as regions in Alberta that have reached a level of ambient air particulate matter and ozone concentrations that require a management strategy to ensure acceptable air quality for the future. The process of developing management plans is underway in these regions. Two of these regions border the East Central Alberta project area.
  • A major expansion of industry is located around the Edmonton Metropolitan area, for example the Industrial Heartlands northeast of Edmonton. Events in this area as well as potential development of the coal, mineral, and petroleum reserves in the East Central Alberta may impact future air quality in the project area.

Alberta Environment. 2008. Air Quality. Scenario Planning Workshop #1 - Topic Area Briefs. ECACEP Community Secretariat.

---------. 2006. Alberta's Air Quality Index. State of the Environment - Air. <>

Clean Air Strategic Alliance. 2006. Air Quality Index. <>

Prepared by:
Alberta Environment

6. Renewable Energy in Alberta

Kralovic, P. and D. Mutysheva. 2006. The Role of Renewable Energy in Alberta's Energy Future. Paper No. 15 of the Alberta Energy Futures Project. University of Calgary: Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy <>

6.1. Introduction

  • Alberta relies heavily on coal, oil, and natural gas for its energy. In 2006, installed electricity generating capacity in the province was about 11,500 megawatts (MW).
  • Thermal sources account for the majority of Alberta's installed generating capacity: coal-fired plants make up approximately 50% of the province's total generating capacity, and natural gas accounts for nearly 40%, including efficient cogeneration at industrial operations that produce energy as a by-product of their normal activities.
  • Approximately 12% of Alberta's generating capacity is comprised of renewable energy-this number includes large-scale hydro.
  • This report assesses the state of knowledge in the potential role that renewable energy could play in responding to the energy and environmental issues that are likely to arise as the energy future of Alberta unfolds.
  • While the energy sector is an important engine of growth and job creation in Alberta, declining reserves of conventional crude oil and natural gas raise the questions of sustainability, resource base diversity and energy security.
  • Moreover, concerns over the environment are increasing-nationally and internationally. Global initiatives, such as the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol of which Canada is a part, are putting pressure on fossil fuels. They are also ultimately promoting the development of alternative energy sources and renewable energy technologies.

6.2. Wind Energy

6.2.1 Overview

  • Electricity is generated by transforming the kinetic energy of the wind using turbines.
  • A 1 MW turbine, depending on wind conditions at its site, can produce sufficient electricity for up to 650 households.
  • Wind is intermittent by nature and the actual electricity generated by a turbine will vary accordingly.
  • The intermittent nature of wind creates balancing issues for the system operator; a secondary source of generation is required for those times when the wind is not blowing.
  • Once a wind farm is constructed and operational it can be supervised and managed at a distance. A mobile crew performs maintenance; approximately two workers are needed for every 20 to 30 turbines. A current generation wind turbine requires about 40 hours per year of maintenance.
  • The principal performance drivers of wind power economics are electricity production (dependent on average wind speed) and the turbine lifetime. The principal cost drivers of wind power economics are investment costs and operation and maintenance costs.
  • Site selection is crucial for attaining economic viability, as electricity production is highly dependent on wind conditions.
  • Wind turbines have a design life of 20-30 years; they can run continuously, unattended and with low maintenance with some 120,000 hours of active operation. The operating availabilities of wind turbines, the percentage of the time they are available for operation, is extremely high at 98 percent. Among electricity generating technologies, wind turbines have the highest reliabilities.
  • "Cost improvements in wind technology are more likely to be evolutionary than revolutionary. Materials technology is improving, allowing longer blades, and larger swept area per turbine. The new generation blades may utilize carbon fiber. Industry volume is increasing, driving economies of scales down. Learning curves for wind turbines suggest that cost will decrease by about 3 percent/year, however, this will be affected by changes in materials costs (e.g., steel) and market conditions. Turbine prices have increased recently due to market buoyancy, but this is a short term (i.e., several years) situation."

6.2.2 Wind Energy in Alberta

  • A significant amount of wind power generation has been added over the past several years, with substantial new capacity proposed for development in coming years.
  • In 2006, there were 15 wind farms in Alberta, totaling 275.5 MW of installed capacity. The estimate of the wind power potential is in the range from the low 570 MW to 1,036 MW.
  • Alberta's southwest corner-particularly around Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod and the Crowsnest Pass-is naturally blessed with an abundant amount of free, renewable wind, which has translated into a successful growth industry in wind-powered electrical generation.

6.3 Solar Energy

6.3.1 Overview

  • Solar promises both lower emissions and a higher efficiency of conversion to electricity than conventional fossil fuel technologies.
  • Solar and wind share the property of intermittency. It has to be taken when available and is therefore not dispatchable.
  • There are two general types of solar technologies used for generating electricity. Photovoltaic (PV) takes place when sunlight is converted directly into electricity. The second technology is solar thermal electricity conversion (STEC), in which sunlight is converted first into heat and then into electricity.
  • Solar technologies have found a niche in locations beyond the reach of electricity transmission and distribution systems, such as space travel and isolated communities; and in applications such as calculators and certain telecommunications equipment that require very modest amounts of power.
  • Penetration of other markets that would appear to offer more potential has been slow.
  • Solar technologies in some circumstances lend themselves to use by homeowners and by business establishments whose main purpose is something other than the generation of electricity for sale.

6.3.2 Solar Energy in Canada

  • The market for solar energy worldwide is growing rapidly, with global growth exceeding 25% per year. Canada, however, is lagging behind. In fact, Canada ranks 14th of 20 reporting International Energy Agency (IEA) countries in deployment of PV and 17th of 22 reporting countries for solar thermal.
  • The Canadian PV installed capacity in 2004 was only 13.88 MW with a sustained domestic growth that has averaged 23% annually since 1992.
  • While the photovoltaic market is very small in Canada, PV technology could be very useful in meeting the remote power needs of Canadian customers particularly for transport route signalling, navigational aids, remote homes, telecommunications, and remote sensing and monitoring.
  • The installed capacity for solar thermal energy in 2004 was 280 MW. This is according to Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA). The growth has been observed in niche markets such as solar air heating, swimming pool water heating, residential housing heating and cooling.
  • Photovoltaic systems require large capital investment, ranging from $30,000 for a 2.5 kW system to $40,000 for a 4 kW system, and are subsequently lagging behind solar thermal technology. Demand for PV is, however, growing rapidly in recent years.

6.4 Biomass

6.4.1. Overview

  • Biomass, or bioenergy, is produced by the release of stored chemical energy contained in fuels made from biological waste. Biomass is actually a product of solar energy that has been stored by the photosynthetic activity of plants. The plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere and combine it with water to produce biomass.
  • At one time in Canada, the combustion of biomass, usually wood, was the principal method for heating, cooking and providing hot water. Industry also used the combustion of biomass - along with water and wind power - as its principal source of energy.
  • Countries that are not heavily industrialized or do not have indigenous fossil fuels still use biomass for a large portion of their energy supply. In Canada, 5.9% of our primary energy demand is supplied from the combustion of biomass.
  • Biomass gasification is a thermal conversion where a solid fuel is converted into a combustible gas. The process of gasification is similar to the coal gasification. The product gas mainly consists of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane, water, nitrogen and contaminants like small char particles, ash and tars. After cleaning the gas it is suitable for boiler, engine, and turbine use to produce heat and power.
  • Decomposing biomass at elevated temperatures through pyrolysis offers a flexible and attractive way of converting forestry and agricultural residues into an easily stored and transported liquid (bio-oil), which can be successfully used for the production of heat, power and chemicals. Bio-oil can offer major advantages over solid biomass and gasification due to the ease of handling, storage and combustion in an existing power station.
  • Up to 40% bio-oil has been added to standard diesel fuel by using surfactants to create a stable mixture. In the future, this mixture might be used as fuel for standard diesel engines in trucks, tractors, construction equipment and forestry equipment.
  • Electric power production from biomass has the potential to make a significant contribution to the power mix and substantially reduces environmental impact. To realize these potential contributions, however, biomass power systems must be competitive on a cost and efficiency basis. One aspect of the biomass operational costs is the price of the feedstock. These can be expensive like short rotation coppice (SRC) or cheap (negative) like waste residues.
  • Transportation, fuel handling and processing adds to the cost of the feedstock. Furthermore, labor costs must be minimized through process control and automation. Practical experience is needed to determine the maintenance costs. Remuneration of electricity and heat can also be decisive in the overall economics.

6.4.2. Biomass Energy in Canada

  • In 2006, 5.9% of Canada's primary energy demand was supplied from the combustion of biomass.
  • Canada has a large, diverse biomass resource that is severely underutilized. With its agricultural and forestry sectors, Alberta is among the vanguard to tapping into this vast potential. Biomass uses these industries' waste as feedstock.
  • In 2006, Alberta had six installed biomass power stations with total electricity generation capacity of 178 MW that are online or close to.

1. Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac) located in Boyle, Alberta operates the largest biomass facility in the province and won Canada's Climate Change Voluntary Challenge and Registry Inc.'s (VCR Inc.'s) 2002 Leadership Award for the forest products industry. The company's 80-MW biomass-powered cogeneration unit, which produces enough electricity to light a city of 45,000, fills more than 80 percent of Al-Pac's energy needs.

2. Making use of enormous amounts of wood refuse, the Grande Prairie EcoPower® Centre began operation on September 30, 2003 in Grande Prairie. The facility uses wood waste to generate both electricity and steam for use in the Canfor sawmill in Grande Prairie. Through the retirement of the existing silo burner, the EcoPower® Centre will cut particulate emissions from the Canfor mill by over 80 percent. The Grande Prairie EcoPower® Centre adds 25 MW. The EcoPower® Centre will generate enough electricity to provide power to approximately 21,000 households.

3. TransCanada's Bear Creek facility is also making use of wood refuse or spent pulping liquor. The 80-MW natural gas-fired cogeneration plant commenced operations in February 2003. Located near Grande Prairie, Alberta, the Bear Creek plant provides electric power and steam services to Weyerhaeuser Company's Grande Prairie Pulp Mill and uses natural gas as well as biomass derived steam from the Mill to provide power to all eight main manufacturing facilities of Weyerhaeuser's Alberta operations.

4. Drayton Valley Power operates a small research and development program in Dapp, Alberta. The facility uses wood refuse from the Weyerhaeuser sawmill near Drayton Valley. It has a capacity of 17 MW and began operations in 1996.

5. EPCOR operates several biomass facilities that generate electricity. The Whitecourt Generating Station burns biomass, specifically waste-wood, from nearby sawmills. It is the first facility to contribute to EPCOR's renewable energy portfolio and is the first EcoLogoTM certified generating station in Canada. The 23 MW plant operates year round.

6. EPCOR also operates a landfill gas facility. Landfill gas is another efficient source of energy. It also accounts for approximately 25 percent of human methane emissions. Using landfill gas for electricity, where feasible, exploits a source that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere and transforms it into useful energy. Landfill gas is produced when organic wastes decompose in the absence of oxygen and is primarily carbon dioxide and methane. Most landfill sites are big holes, lined with impermeable material before being filled with waste and capped. The lining and capping prevent the escape of gas, which starts producing in about a year and can continue for decades. EPCOR's Clover Bar Generating Station uses landfill gas from the City of Edmonton's Clover Bar Landfill as a supplement to natural gas. The gas is extracted from the landfill through wells. The gas is purified and piped to the generating station.

  • Other sources of landfill gas and waste include digestion of animal manure and waste water biosolids. Livestock waste biogas is a growing element of biomass, especially with Alberta's large agricultural sector. There are several projects that make use of biowaste. For example, pig manure is currently being used in Alberta for biomass power generation at the Iron Creek Hutterite Colony. BioGem Power Systems is an emerging company that designed the biogas facility near Bruce, Alberta. Through the process of anaerobic digestion, electrical and thermal energy, reusable water and a dry nutrient rich organic material is created.

6.5. Geothermal

6.5.1 Overview

  • Geothermal energy is energy recoverable from heat concentrated near the earth's surface in the form of hot water or steam. This steam or hot water is used in turn to power turbines or to heat buildings or water.
  • If the local geography has precise features, geothermal facilities can be installed. The facilities capture steam as it escapes from cracks or holes in underground rocks.
  • Geothermal energy is an enormous, underused heat and power resource that is clean (emits little or no greenhouse gases), reliable (average system availability of 95 percent), and homegrown (making us less dependent on foreign oil).
  • Geothermal energy requires a source temperature of more than 100°C to drive a generating turbine.
  • On the temperature scale, geothermal resources are classified into: • High-temperature (higher than 150°C); • Medium-temperature (lower than 150 C but higher than 90°C); • Low-temperature (less than 90°C)
  • High-grade resources are commonly associated with recent volcanic areas (such as the west coast of British Columbia). This type of resource can be commercially tapped for electric power generation (e.g. proposals for Mount Meager, B.C.).
  • Low- and medium-grade resources can be used most economically in direct use of heat or in combination with underground thermal energy storage (UTES) systems that provide seasonal energy for heating and cooling (e.g. Aquifer Thermal Energy Transfer Storage (ATES) systems at Pacific Agricultural Research Centre (PARC) in Agassiz, B.C.; Carleton University, Ont.).

6.5.2 Geothermal Energy in Canada

  • It has been demonstrated from research undertaken since 1974 that Canada has plentiful and widespread geothermal potential. The abundance of hydroelectric resources and inexpensive fossil fuels has, however, proved disincentives to large-scale development.
  • Resources of high temperature geothermal energy have been established but to date none have been utilized. Rather it has been applications utilizing the low-temperature resources that have come to fruition.
  • Direct utilization of geothermal energy has followed four routes (geothermal heat pumps, aquifer thermal energy storage, energy from mine waters and hot spring resorts) and provides an estimated total installed capacity of 377.6 MWt.
  • It has been estimated that 30,000 heat pump units (with a total capacity of 360 MWt) have been installed to provide heat and/or cooling to commercial buildings and larger private homes.
  • Western Canada is known to possess numerous medium and high-temperature hot springs and an estimated 6.6 MWt capacity is utilized for recreational purposes at 11 commercial hot pools and 8 resorts in British Columbia and Alberta.
  • Geothermal waters found in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) represent a new form of abundant and cheap energy that's sequestered in underground aquifers. The renewable energy stored in these subsurface aquifers is sufficient to power geothermal heat pumps and heat exchangers to generate electricity.
  • The Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) and the Alberta Research Council (ARC) have teamed up to study the technical and economic feasibility of harnessing Alberta's low temperature (10 to 40 degrees Celsius) to medium temperature (40 to 140°C) geothermal resources found in WCSB. Preliminary estimates suggest that - given current technologies - the potential energy locked in Alberta's geothermal waters is in the order of 2 to 5 trillion barrels of oil equivalent.

6.6. Barriers for Renewable Energy Development

6.6.1. Information Barriers

  • Many residential and some commercial sector energy consumers are unaware of energy issues.
  • Energy has traditionally been very cheap relative to other expenses, thus little time is invested in understanding energy supply options. A greater level of consumer participation in energy supplies could result in the greater deployment of low-impact renewable energy (LIRE), as they have inherent social values for which people may be willing to pay.
  • Even those consumers who are actively engaged in managing their energy supply and use (e.g., large commercial and industrial consumers), may not be aware of LIRE options. The new LIRE market has few suppliers and does not engage in mainstream marketing efforts. Thus, consumers may not be aware of cost-effective options.
  • There is a lack of information on potential suppliers in Canada and companies that provide maintenance services. This barrier affects utilities and/or consumers, depending on the scale of the LIRE technology that is being considered. Although there are industry associations for wind power (CANWEA) and solar energy (CANSIA and SESCI), no associations are in place for biomass energy, small-scale hydro power or other LIRE technologies.

6.6.2. Institutional Barriers

  • Interconnection and operational barriers are often cited as being the most severe for LIRE technologies, particularly for small-scale, distributed technologies. These are related to technical, financial and operational requirements in order to connect to the grid.
  • Access to capital for investments in new LIRE supplies can be a barrier. Although a large part of total project costs can often be covered by "debt financing" from banks or insurance companies, a portion of the project must always be covered through an equity investment in the actual project (i.e., ownership). Small LIRE producers often do not have access to sufficient capital, even if their projects are cost effective. Instead, they rely on external equity investors for part of the project costs.
  • Investors will typically put their money into projects that offer the optimal return on equity investment, or that pay a regular dividend for the investment. LIRE must compete with other investments such as conventional oil and gas, technology companies, stocks and mutual funds, and real estate, among others.

6.6.3. Technical Barriers

  • The level of success of renewable energy technologies depends on their cost competitiveness and reliability relative to conventional technologies.
  • Several LIRE technologies and resources are intermittent, meaning that they do not produce power at all times when it is needed. These include wind and solar technologies for daily variation in supply, and hydro technologies for seasonal variation. This intermittency can be moderated by integrating LIRE facilities into an electrical grid with biomass, storage hydro, nuclear or fossil fuel facilities, or by providing storage for off-grid applications.
  • Although there have been some major achievements over the past five years in the manufacture of wind and solar power industries, additional technical challenges remain. Further technical achievements and value engineering techniques will lower large-scale production costs and assist with commercialization.
  • Many areas of Canada are also located in more harsh environments than many other countries, and as a result the technical requirements of LIRE systems are even more complex for successful operation. Cold climatic conditions create constraints that challenge small-scale hydroelectric, wind power and PV systems. Rime icing takes place on PV panels and turbine blades, thereby decreasing performance. Small hydroelectric design must provide for control of frazil ice and pipeline freezing. The resolution of this issue can considerably add to capital expenses and operating costs.

6.7. Provincial Energy Strategy


The Provincial Energy Strategy will address the present-and offer us a roadmap to the future-of energy development in Alberta.

The strategy will recognize that environmentally responsible and innovative hydrocarbon development will remain the cornerstone of Alberta's economy and North American energy supply.

It will also recognize the importance of energy conservation, efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources, as expanding pieces of our provincial energy portfolio.

The province has appointed an advisory committee including members from academia, industry and government policy to provide advice on this initiative.

They include:
Dr. Mike Percy, Dean of Business, the University of Alberta (Chair)
Dr. Robert Mansell, University of Calgary;
Linda Van Gastel, Alberta Science and Research Authority;
Dr. Bill Gunter, Alberta Research Council;
Dr. Lorne Taylor, former MLA for Cypress Medicine Hat;
Brendan Bell, former Minister of Energy and Environment, NWT;
Michael Raymont, former CEO of Energy I-Net;
Clive Mather, Lead Director, IOGEN Corporation;
Peter Watson, Deputy Minister of Energy (Ex Officio)

7. Demographic Conditions & Change in East Central Alberta

Source: Watrecon Consulting. 2005. Battle River Basin: Water Use Assessment and Projections. Prepared for Alberta Environment.

7.1. Population Characteristics

  • About 65% of the population of the Battle River Basin (BRB) in 2001 (approximately 71,400 people) lived in the upper part of the basin.
  • The upper basin contains the majority of large population centres, including Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Ponoka and Lacombe.
  • The upper basin is more urban than the rest of the basin (65%).
  • About 61% of the population of the middle basin is considered urban, living in numerous towns and villages including Stettler, Coronation, Viking and Hardisty.
  • The lower basin accounts for only 12% of the population of the BRB, and the majority is rural.

  • Since 1996 there has been considerable variability in the rates of population growth within the basin.
  • Overall, the population of the BRB increased about 5.6% between 1996 and 2001, though the rural population decreased slightly. During the same period, the Alberta population increased by 10.3%

Population of Selected Counties in the Battle River Basin, 2001


Change since 1996







County of Camrose (Upper basin)







Beaver County

(Middle basin)







Flagstaff County

(Middle basin)







Source: Watrecon Consulting, 2005

  • In terms of age characteristics, residents of the BRB tend to be older than Albertans in general.
  • In 2001, people aged 65 or older comprised 10% of the Alberta population but 15% of the BRB residents.
  • Within the BRB, residents of the middle basin were the oldest, with the highest proportion of people over the age of 55.
  • More than 17% of residents of the Middle basin were age 65 or older in 2001.
  • These age characteristics are believed to be tied to changes in the economic base of the different parts of the BRB. For example, younger families are leaving the middle basin because of limited employment opportunities, leaving behind an older population.
  • In 2001, about 69% of the residents of the middle basin had resided at the same address since 1996 and less than 5% had moved into the region from outside Alberta.
  • The upper basin reported the highest percentage of people moving into the region from other parts of Alberta (36.4%).
  • Within the BRB, agriculture and other resource based industries accounted for more than twice as much employment as occurs in Alberta.
  • Agriculture and other resource based industries accounted for 23.5% of employment in the BRB, and this ranged from 17.3% in the upper basin to 34.4% in the middle basin.
  • Employment in other primary industries, such as manufacturing and construction, was significantly less in the middle and lower basins (9%) than elsewhere in the basin (12%) or Alberta 18%).
  • Employment in health and education industries accounted for 19.4% of employment in the upper basin.
  • Regional employment in the services industries (32.2%), which includes finance and real estate, was significantly lower than in Alberta (42.5%).
  • Average incomes in the BRB were lower than the provincial average, nearly 20% less than the Alberta average of $32,603 reported for 2001.
  • BRB residents are more reliant on income from government transfers than Albertans in general.

Summary (as of 2001)

  • The upper basin (which includes the county of Camrose) can be characterized as having a dynamic and diversified economy that has generated higher levels of in-migration and population growth, with higher incomes than the rest of the BRB.
  • In contrast, the population of the middle basin (which includes the Flagstaff County and part of Beaver County) is gradually shrinking as younger people leave in search of employment. This part of the basin has the lowest levels of in-migration, the highest reliance on agriculture for employment, the lowest incomes, and the greatest proportion of the population aged 65 and older.

7.2. Population Trends

  • According to the study by Watrecon Consulting (2005), the upper basin has the highest overall potential for population growth because it is expected to continue to have a relatively young population, will attract a large number of people from other parts of the province and immigrants, will feature the most diversified economy, and have the highest overall incomes.
  • The same study suggest that the long-term prospects for the middle basin are not as positive, as the prospects for population growth through immigration remain poor unless there is significant economic diversification that provides new employment outside the agricultural sector.
  • In this context, population forecasts by Watrecon Consulting (2005) indicate that within the next 25 years the upper basin will account for 71% of the basin population.

East Central Population Statistics

8. Impacts of an Aging Population on Community/Public Health

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - August 2008.

8.1. Introduction
• With an aging population in Alberta, there is an increasingly urgent need to prepare our communities through adaptations that will enable older people to keep healthy, active and independent, and continue to contribute their skills, knowledge and experience.
• Older adults make significant and numerous contributions on a number of fronts-to their families (by providing assistance to spouses, children and grandchildren); to their friends and neighbours; to the community (through volunteering activities); and to the paid economy as skilled and knowledgeable workers.
• The costs and benefits associated with aging and the impacts on communities and broader society make an investment in healthy aging imperative.

8.2. Most important trends and underlying influences
• The Alberta population is aging, primarily due to the 'baby boomer' generation, declining fertility and increased life expectancy. Between 1999 and 2016, it is estimated that there will be a 60-70% increase in the number of seniors.
• In the short term, the largest increases will occur in the number of older seniors. After 2011, when the baby boomers begin to turn 65, younger seniors will begin to dominate the seniors' population. As these people age, there will be a shift back to older seniors.
• Future seniors may be healthier and more active to an older age. Improvements in education, income, the environment, childhood development, employment, and working conditions will help to improve overall health of people as they age. Advances in technology such as joint replacements will help people stay active in their older years.
• Trends point to people living longer, staying healthy and active, and remaining in their own homes as long as possible. Trends also point to the development of supportive housing options and a smaller proportion of people needing to move to continuing care centres.
• The trends suggest, that in the future, there will be more emphasis on providing the support people need to retain their independence, including home care, support for informal caregivers, and well-coordinated care from a variety of providers and agencies in the community.

8.3. Potential Burden of an Aging Population
• While the majority of seniors living at home view their health as good, more than four out of five seniors living at home suffer from a chronic health condition, this proportion being slightly higher among senior women than senior men. High rates of obesity have, and will continue to contribute to unprecedented levels of diabetes and other weight-related chronic conditions.
• Injuries among seniors are a key concern because of the sharp increase with age in the rate of injuries and injury-related deaths. Senior women are nearly 60% more likely than senior men to suffer an injury.
• Seniors are generally more likely to be hospitalized than Albertans from other age groups and hospitalization rates increase with age in later life. The hospital stay of seniors also tends to be longer with senior women staying in hospital longer than senior men. Almost all seniors consult a health professional during a given year and use prescription drugs and/or over the counter medication.
• Mental health is an often neglected aspect of seniors' issues. The two most common mental health problems encountered by seniors are cognitive impairment, including dementia, and depression.

8.4. Potential Implications for Communities
• Multiple factors influence healthy aging, including adequate income, education, appropriate housing, satisfying relationships, and safe environments. It is increasingly recognized that encouraging communities to create age-friendly physical and social environments will better support older citizens in making choices that enhance their health and well-being and allow them to participate in their communities, contributing their skills, knowledge and experience.
• Increasing numbers of seniors will mean increased demand for housing, support services and other professional services. As the population ages, it will be increasingly important for older people to have access to community health services, prevention programs, home care, palliative care programs, respite care and day programs, and quality health services when they need them.
• Current research on rural and remote communities shows they face unique social and environmental challenges that can have an impact on health and healthy aging different from those facing urban populations. For example, seniors who wish to "age in place" in rural communities can face barriers to remaining in their homes and staying active and engaged in their communities. Such barriers include a lack of or limited support available to enable older persons to remain independent, as well as very limited housing and transportation options. In addition, seniors in rural and remote areas are frequently required to travel out of their communities for health services, which creates a range of challenges for themselves and their families.

8.5. Opportunities
• lllness, disability and loss of independence are not inevitable consequences of aging. Much can be done to prevent, minimize, or even reverse frailty and poor health in older age. The challenge is to develop the most effective strategies to expand the disability-free years of life, to reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases and disabilities, provide social supports that contribute to a higher quality of life and to improve the overall health of seniors.
• Evidence shows that health promotion and disease prevention strategies can help those who are aging well, as well as those with chronic conditions and those who are at risk for serious health problems-even very late in life.
• In the future, there must be more emphasis on providing the support people need to retain their independence, including home care, access to a range of services in the community, support for informal caregivers, and well-coordinated care from a variety of providers and agencies in the community

8.6. Some Ideas to Re-orient Health and Community Services to Better Promote Healthy Aging
• Incentives for primary care physicians, nurses and other allied practitioners to counsel seniors at risk for isolation, reduced physical activity, falls, compromised nutrition, and tobacco use and exposure;
• An expanded role for nurse practitioners and other health providers in providing health services including increasing the roles of public health workers and staff in assisted living facilities enabling healthy aging among seniors with disabilities and chronic diseases;
• Expanding flexible and innovative ways to improve access to health services, for example using technology such as Telehealth to link patients and health care providers to specialists and diagnostic services in major centres in the province;
• Mobile clinics to bring doctors and nurses to the community on a regular basis;
• Adequately support community-based, prevention-focused social service organizations to continue their work in the community where seniors reside;
• Subsidies for seniors who wish to take a smoking cessation program or have a fitness or nutrition assessment; loan programs for aids and equipment (including medical alert systems);
• Well co-coordinated access to a range of integrated services including home care, community programs, continuing and hospital care;
• 'Cluster-care models' to provide integrated services to seniors; 'one-stop' health or wellness services;
• Retired professionals (e.g., pharmacists, nurses, teachers) to provide volunteer support in seniors' homes and clinics-for example, to explain medication and health care issues;
• Delivery services, especially groceries and pharmaceutical deliveries; twice daily cooking services to seniors living in supportive housing;
• Establish daycare services for seniors to provide an activity for the seniors and respite for caretakers;
• Provide a home visit program to provide social visits to seniors;
• Set up caregiver support groups and elder care information sessions where families can learn about available community programs and services.

Prepared by
Alberta Health and Wellness


Alberta Health and Wellness. 2002. Alberta's Healthy Aging and Seniors Wellness Strategic Framework 2002 -2012.
Alberta Health and Wellness. 2007. Health Trends in Alberta, A Working Document. <>
Alberta Seniors and Community Supports. 2007. A Profile of Alberta Seniors. <>
East Central Health. 2004. How Healthy Are We? A checkup for residents of East Central Health.
Public Health Agency of Canada. 2006. Healthy Aging in Canada: A New Vision, A Vital Investment From Evidence to Action. <>
Public Health Agency of Canada. 2007. Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide. <>

9. Governance models in Alberta and beyond

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - August 2008.


Lebel, L., J. M. Anderies, B. Campbell, C. Folke, S. Hatfield-Dodds, T. P. Hughes. and J. Wilson. 2006. Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society 11(1): 19. [online] URL:

Ferreyra, C., R.C. de Loë and R.D. Kreutzwiser. 2008. Imagined communities, contested watersheds: challenges to integrated water resources management in agricultural areas. Journal of Rural Studies 24: 304-321.

Ferreyra, C. and R. Kreutzwiser. 2007. Integrating Land and Water Stewardship and Drinking Water Source Protection. Challenges and Opportunities. Report prepared for Conservation Ontario. Newmarket, ON: Conservation Ontario.

Janet. L. Ivey, Rob C. De Loë and Reid D. Kreutzwiser. 2002. Groundwater management by watershed agencies: an evaluation of the capacity of Ontario's conservation authorities. Journal of Environmental Management 64: 311-331.

9.1. Introduction
• Governance, the structures and processes by which societies make decisions and share power, shapes individual and collective actions.
• Governance includes laws, regulations, discursive debates, negotiation, mediation, conflict resolution, elections, public consultations, protests, and other decision-making processes.
• Governance is not the sole purview of the state through government, but rather emerges from the interactions of many actors, including the private sector and not-for-profit organizations.
• In this context, the term governance is applied to processes of social coordination through non-hierarchical interaction within networks of public, private and civil society actors participating in different policy fields.
• In the natural resource and environmental management field, governance by partnerships and networks has been advanced as the way to address complex and uncertain environmental issues.
• Governance by partnerships and networks represent a shift from perceived over-reliance on hierarchical coordination through regulation, top-down bureaucracies and positivist scientific expertise.
• In this regard, the shift to environmental governance has been influenced by, and is reflective of, ongoing demands in North America and elsewhere for decentralization in environmental decision-making and implementation through local devolution and public participation.

9.2. Models of Environmental Governance

9.2.1. Integrated Water Resources Management
• Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is one of the major bottom-up alternatives that emerged during the 1980s in North America as part of the trend towards more decentralized and participatory styles of environmental governance.
• In the developed world, mainly Australia and North America, IWRM aims to protect surface and groundwater resources by focusing on the integrated management of land and water interests on a watershed basis.
• Unfortunately, existing social and political boundaries rarely coincide with ecological boundaries and, as a result, the main institutional challenge for IWRM has been the creation of meaningful patterns of socio-political interaction within the geographical boundaries of watersheds.
• Reflecting this concern, IWRM has commonly involved the creation of multi-stakeholder watershed partnerships that are to rely on collaboration to develop a common environmental vision to be achieved through integrated, watershed-based policies and programs.

9.2.2. Water For Life
• Water for Life is the Alberta government's comprehensive strategy for addressing water management concerns for the future. Water for Life was developed by Alberta Environment, in collaboration with a number of government departments, through an extensive public and stakeholder consultation process.
• In order to achieve the outcomes of the Water for Life strategy, specific actions have been identified within three core areas of focus, including Knowledge and research, Partnerships and Conservation.
• According to Water for Life, partnerships can be more effective at developing and implementing solutions to complex problems. Partnerships can balance a range of needs across a watershed and help ensure local and regional economic viability that is environmentally sound and tailored to watershed capacity.
• The Water for Life partnership framework identifies how citizens and stakeholders will have opportunities to actively participate in watershed management on a provincial, community and individual basis.
• Three types of partnerships - a Provincial Water Advisory Council, Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils, and Watershed Stewardship Groups - with different, but compatible, roles involves interested Albertans in the planning and implementation of improved water and watershed management.
• A Provincial Water Advisory Council explores and makes recommendations on water-related issues in the province. They report on the implementation of the water strategy and make recommendations to the government, stakeholders and the public on water issues affecting Alberta.
• Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils are regional organizations working on a watershed scale to raise awareness of the state of Alberta's major river basins. Joining with governments and other stakeholders, these councilsl participate in developing, implementing, and continuously monitoring and revising water and watershed management plans.
• Watershed Stewardship Groups are already at work within their communities to raise awareness and undertake 'on the ground' activities to protect and enhance local water bodies. These groups deliver knowledge and best management practices to landholders that are making improvements to the water in their watersheds.
• In 2007, the Alberta Water Council provided recommendations regarding how to re-energize and re-focus the Water for Life strategy.
• According to the Alberta Water Council Recommendations for Renewal (2008), an effective foundation has been built in the area of Partnerships. Active partnerships now include the Alberta Water Council, eight Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils, and over 140 Watershed Stewardship Groups.
• This foundation has been built for shared action and many Water for Life partners are ready to act on what has been learned during the first four years of implementation. Improvement, however, is needed in clarifying the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of the Water for Life partners.
• Furthermore, the Council suggested that a foundational piece that defines "the mandate, capacity, authority, and accountability of the partners, under a revised shared governance framework" is critical to the success of partnerships and planning. Without this clarity, partnerships can become less active, and ultimately, ineffective.
• The Alberta Water Council is currently undertaking a project to define a Water for Life strategy shared governance framework.

9.2.3. Land Use Framework
• Following an 18-month consultation process, the Government of Alberta developed the Draft Land-use Framework to address the growth pressures facing the province.
• The Draft Land-use Framework sets out an approach to better manage public and private lands and natural resources to achieve Alberta's long-term economic, environmental and social goals.
• According to the draft, strong provincial leadership will be critical to the success of land-use planning and resource management in Alberta.
• In this context, establishing a formal governance structure for implementing the Land-use Framework will be necessary.
• To meet this need, the Land-use Framework will create a Cabinet Committee, supported by a Land-use Secretariat.
• The Cabinet Committee and Secretariat will be responsible for the development of regional plans in conjunction with government departments and Regional Advisory Councils.
• The Regional Advisory Councils will consist of members representing the range of interests within the region. Members will be appointed by the provincial government and will include provincial, municipal, industry, nongovernment groups, aboriginal representatives, and other relevant planning bodies within the region.
• These councils will have a short-term mandate to provide advice to the regional plan over the course of its development, as well as provide advice on addressing trade-off decisions regarding land uses and on setting thresholds to address cumulative effects.
• Municipalities will be required to ensure their plans and decisions are consistent with regional plans. The Government of Alberta will respect the existing land-use planning and decision-making authority of municipalities.

9.2.4. Conservation Authorities - Ontario
• The establishment of CAs in Ontario, through the 1946 Conservation Authorities Act (CAA), was prompted by a variety of social and environmental concerns.
• Two of the most serious concerns were finding employment for armed forces personnel when they returned from the Second WorldWar, and fears that environmental degradation would eventually affect economic growth and development in Ontario.
• CAs were created as a form of partnership between municipalities and the Province of Ontario, to manage the quality and quantity of surface waters in particular, and natural resources in general.
• Their early projects emphasized flood protection, low flow augmentation, and reforestation.
• Under the CAA, an authority's mandate is 'to establish and undertake, in the area over which it has jurisdiction, a program designed to further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources other than gas, oil, coal andminerals' (Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, c. C. 27 s. 20).
• Conservation authorities are formed at municipal request, and their boards, which guide their activities, are composed of municipal appointees.
• CAs have the power to undertake research, acquire land, raise municipal levies, construct works, control surface water flows, create regulations, and prescribe fees and permits.
• Authorities can regulate the use of lands they own, and can enter into agreements with other parties to manage lands they do not own.
• Conservation authority boundaries are based on watersheds, and range in size from 215km2 to 10 933km2. As municipal levies (raised from property taxes) constitute a major source of CA funding, authority revenues reflect the population of the municipalities contained within their borders.
• Up to the mid 1990s, the majority of conservation authorities' revenues came from general purpose provincial transfers and from municipal levies. However, since the mid 1990s, CAs have derived an increasing proportion of their incomes from their own fund raising activities, and from a wider range of targeted federal and provincial.
• While CAs are making more use of the broad mandate afforded to them by the Conservation Authorities Act, the provincial government currently is only funding projects involving core provincial interests, mainly relating to flood control and support for taxes on provincially designated environmentally significant lands.
• Programs not funded by the provincial government, which many authorities consider core, include the development of watershed strategies, environmental education, outdoor recreation, soil conservation, environmental land use planning, habitat protection and restoration, rural landowner assistance, and wetland management.
• In this context CAs have, to varying extents, attempted to integrate land and surface water management within their jurisdictions in order to promote consistency in environmental management and land use planning across political boundaries.
• It is important to note, however, that most land and water stewardship initiatives in Ontario during the last few decades have been led by other organizations from different levels of government as well as NGOs, and have not been carried out as part of a watershed management approach per se.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

Focus Papers - Workshop #3

10. Demographic Trends in East Central Alberta

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - October 2008.

Student enrollment information provided by:

Todd Sieben
Division Principal
Battle River School Division #31

Other sources:

Web site - Battle River School Division #31 - Documents & Policies


11. Current and Future Water Use in the North Saskatchewan River Basin - Water Use Q & A

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - October 2008.

Report Prepared for the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) by AMEC Earth and Environmental, November 2007

11.1 Key Findings and Messages

Why was this report prepared?

• The NSWA is preparing an Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the North Saskatchewan River basin in Alberta. An accurate understanding of current and projected water use patterns in the basin is fundamentally important to this planning process.
• The annual water use statistics presented in this report depict only a portion of the overall water management story. Water quality and ecological effects are not directly addressed in this type of analysis, nor are these water use statistics discussed in the context of water supply estimates.
• In order to provide the reader some context on this matter, the NSWA presents some simple comparisons below between water use and the (average) total annual volume of discharge in the NSR. The NSWA recognizes that these comparisons are very limited in scope.
• Future analyses will examine the effects of water use on river flow patterns throughout the various seasons of the year and will also consider climate change effects on river supply.

How was the work done and what information does it provide?

• The NSWA contracted with a consulting firm (AMEC Earth and Environmental) to review Government of Alberta water use statistics and other data sources to produce a comprehensive and current report for the NSR basin.
• Current water use patterns were assessed and water use forecasts up to 2025 (based on low/medium/high population and economic growth scenarios) were prepared.

• The report provides current water use data and future estimates for each of twelve sub-basins in the watershed. Water use statistics are also broken down by "Sector" (purpose).
• All data are presented in terms of annual statistics

How is water use regulated in Alberta?

• All surface and groundwater diversions (withdrawals), except those intended for individual household and traditional agricultural purposes, require a license or a registration under Alberta's Water Act.
• Each license or registration creates a water allocation, which specifies the maximum amount of water that may be diverted for a particular purpose.

Is all of the allocated water actually diverted and used?

• No, many licensees are not presently diverting or using the full amount of their allocations.
• Once a quantity of water is actually diverted, only a portion may actually be used (or consumed) by the activity in question. The balance is generally returned to the original source where it remains available for other users.

What terms in the report are most important to understand?

• Allocation - the licensed maximum volume, as well as the rate and timing, of a water diversion
• Actual water use - the amount of water actually being consumed (and lost) and not returned to the source.
• Several other water use statistics are identified in the report and the reader is advised to carefully note the terminology used.

How much surface water has been allocated within the North Saskatchewan River basin and what is the actual use?

• Current annual surface water allocations total about 2 billion cubic metres - or approximately 27% of the river's average total annual discharge as measured at the Alberta- Saskatchewan boundary (estimated at 7.3 billion cubic metres).
• Many licensees' actual water use volumes are much less than their allocations.
• The report identifies that current actual use is about 0.19 billion cubic metres per year, or 2.6% of the average annual discharge.
• Both river flow and use will vary throughout the year so these percentage depictions will vary accordingly.

How much groundwater has been allocated in the North Saskatchewan River basin and what is the actual use?

• Groundwater allocations total 0.025 billion cubic metres (or a little more than 1% of the surface water allocations).
• Limited data are available on actual groundwater use. The report estimates that current actual use is about 60% of total allocations.

11.2 Water Allocation and Use by Sector

How are water allocation and use statistics categorized in the report?

• Water license statistics are broken down into six major categories or sectors: industrial, petroleum, municipal, commercial, agricultural and "other".
• The "other" category includes water diverted for activities such as the maintenance of wetlands, land drainage and lake level stabilization.
• Allocations and actual use are quantified for each sector, by annual volumes, for both surface and groundwater.

What are the report's findings on surface water use?

• A summary of surface water use statistics by sector is presented in Table 1

• The largest portion of water allocated in the NSR basin (84%) is to the industrial sector.
• The majority of the industrial allocation is for thermal power plant cooling processes.
• Most of the water diverted by the industrial sector is eventually returned to its source.
• Despite these large return flows, the industrial sector accounts for almost half of the actual water use (49%) because of significant evaporative losses involved in cooling processes.

• Municipal allocations are the next largest - at 8% of the total. Most of the water withdrawn for municipal use is eventually returned as treated wastewater effluent. Therefore, actual water use by this sector is very small and represents only 4% of actual water use.

• The third largest sector is Petroleum at 5% of allocations, most of which is consumed. Actual use is therefore next highest after Industry - at 18% of the current use. This category includes "upstream" (i.e. oil and gas extraction) and "downstream" (i.e. refineries and upgraders).

Commercial, Agricultural, Other
• The remaining three sectors (Commercial, Agricultural and Other) account for only 4% of allocations in total. However, actual use in these sectors is high and accounts for the remaining 31% of the current total use.

Table 1. Annual surface water allocations and use (billions of m3)

Allocation Actual Use
Industrial 1.6660 84% 0.092 49%
Municipal 0.158 8% .007 4%
Petroleum .089 5% .034 18%
Agriculture .016 1% .016 9%
Commercial .014 1% .011 6%
Other 0.034 2% 0.026 14%
Totals 1.971 100% .187 100%
Annual Flow 7.28 27% 2.6%

What are the Report's findings on groundwater use?

• A summary of groundwater water use statistics is presented in Table 2
• The Agricultural sector accounts for 45% of groundwater allocations.
• The report assumes that most of this allocated water is eventually used (for stock watering). Actual water use for agriculture therefore represents 54% of total groundwater use in the basin
• The Municipal sector accounts for 24% of groundwater allocations and 15% of the actual use.
• The Petroleum sector is 19% of allocations and represents 10% of actual use.

Table 2. Annual groundwater allocations and use (billions of m3)

Allocations Actual Use
Municipal 0.006 24% 0.002 15%
Agriculture 0.011 45% 0.008 54%
Commercial 0.001 6% 0.000 0%
Petroleum 0.005 19% 0.001 10%
Industrial 0.001 3% 0.002 12%
Other 0.001 3% 0.001 9%
Totals 0.024 100% 0.015 100%

11.3 Geographic patterns in water allocation and use

Where does water use occur in the North Saskatchewan River basin?

• The watershed was subdivided into twelve sub-basins for the purposes of this study
• Patterns in development and water use vary widely across the basin.
• Water allocation and use is almost negligible in the upstream sub-basins
• The study identified that 95% of the total water allocations in the NSR basin and 84% of the actual water use are located in the four central sub-basins surrounding the Capital Region.
• Large water allocations and the resulting evaporation losses from thermal power plant cooling processes occur in the two sub-basins upstream of the Capital Region.
• Within the Capital Region there are also large allocations for cooling, other industrial, municipal and petroleum purposes.
• The allocation and use of water is very small downstream of the Capital Region

11.4 Future water use projections

What assumptions were made in projecting future water allocations and use?

• Since the extent of future water conservation initiatives remains unknown, future water use projections were based on a "business as usual" approach.
• Future water use was projected for low/medium/high rates of population and economic growth.
• Projections were made for each use category and each sub-basin at five year intervals up to 2025.

How much will surface water use increase?

• Based on a medium growth rate, annual surface water use is expected to increase from 0.19 to about 0.26 billion cubic metres by the year 2025.
• In relation to the annual river discharge of 7.3 billion cubic metres, actual water use is therefore projected to increase from 2.6% to 3.5% - assuming average river discharge rates remain unchanged

What changes are expected in the patterns of surface water use?

• Nearly all of the projected increase in surface water use will be in the Petroleum sector, and will be due to bitumen upgrader and coal gasification projects planned for the Capital Region.
• Annual water use in the Petroleum sector is projected to increase by 0.086 billion m3 by 2025.
• Annual water use in the Industrial category will decline by 0.026 billion cubic metres by 2010 due to closure of one thermal power plant upstream of the Capital Region.
• Annual water use in all the other sectors combined will increase by about 0.012 billion cubic metres by 2025.
• Most of the increase in water use will occur in the Capital Region.

What changes are expected in groundwater use?

• Annual groundwater use is expected to increase from 0.015 to 0.017 billion cubic metres, or by about 13 %, in the period up to 2025.

Where can I get a copy of the report?

• The report is posted on the NSWA website:

• A limited number of printed copies and CDs can be obtained by contacting the NSWA office at 780-496-6962

12. Highlights of the Shared Governance Report

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - October 2008.

Strengthening Partnerships: A Shared Governance Framework for Water for Life Collaborative Partnerships - - Final Draft September 16, 2008

Executive Summary
When the Water for Life strategy was released in 2003, the partnership model it described was only a vision.

The organizations, their relationships to one another, and how they would function existed only on paper. Since 2003, the Alberta Water Council and nine Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils have been created, while the number and sophistication of Alberta's Watershed Stewardship Groups has grown. These organizations have now functioned for a number of years, and it is timely to undertake a review of the shared governance framework in which they operate.

Shared governance refers to a governance structure where both government and other stakeholders share responsibility for the development and delivery of policy, planning, and programs or services, but where the government retains legislative accountability. Shared governance is a collaborative goal-setting and problem-solving process built on trust and communication. Shared governance requires clear roles, responsibilities, accountabilities, and relationships.

The recommendations proposed here are meant to strengthen the operation of that framework and build a foundation for Water for Life partnerships to "learn together to manage together." All stakeholders need to contribute to the implementation of this framework. Although more could be said, and more will be learned, this is a good foundation to move forward.

The Shared Governance Model
The shared governance model described in Enabling Partnerships, the partnerships proposed in it, and their general roles and responsibilities remain valid. However, the Project Team noted several aspects requiring further clarification.

Recommendation 1: The shared governance approach to water and watershed management should continue to be supported in Alberta by all Water for Life partners.

Recommendation 2: Water for Life partnerships are connected through a common adherence to Water for Life outcomes. A formal, hierarchical reporting relationship is not required, but improved information exchange and alignment of outcomes among partnerships is necessary.

Recommendation 3: Watershed planning initiatives launched by any partnership within a watershed must be aligned with the plans of the designated Watershed Planning & Advisory Council, where one exists. Where a WPAC does not exist, local planning outcomes should be complementary and directed towards supporting Water for Life outcomes.

Recommendation 4: The sector model - securing participation based on four broad sectors - provincial government; industry; ENGOs; and other governments - is an appropriate partnership model for watershed planning and policy initiatives. It ensures that all stakeholders are involved and helps balance the many interests that must be accommodated.

Operating within the Shared Governance Framework
Partners in the Water for Life strategy need to improve their lines of communication, share more information, and integrate their outcomes and actions more effectively.

Recommendation 5: Partners must provide an effective link to their sectors. This includes exchanging information, seeking sector feedback, promoting adopted outcomes throughout their sector, and reporting on sector performance where outcomes require actions from that sector.

Recommendation 6: Water for Life partnerships should use a consensus-based decision-making process. They should also include a clear approach for dispute resolution.

Recommendation 7: The Alberta Water Council should work with WPACs and WSGs to produce a strategy for communications among the Water for Life partnerships.

Recommendation 8: All Water for Life partnerships should prepare a communications strategy to inform stakeholders about their operational policies and to keep them informed about the work of the partnership.

Recommendation 9: Notification to the general public is required at least when the terms-of-reference and final products of planning and policy initiatives are being presented to partners for endorsement.

Water for Life is an Alberta Government policy and the Alberta Government plays a key role in the success of any Water for Life partnership.

Recommendation 10: The Government of Alberta must clarify how it intends to integrate recommendations, plans, and actions from Water for Life partnerships with its legislative and regulatory responsibilities as soon as reasonably possible.

Recommendation 11: The Alberta Water Council should continue to review the success of the shared governance system through its annual reporting process and take action to improve and support the system.

Resourcing Water for Life Partnerships
Successful partnerships require adequate resources, including money, human resources, expertise and information.

Recommendation 12: While the government of Alberta will remain a major source of funding and other resources, Water for Life partnerships must also look to all of their stakeholders for contributions to their operation.

Recommendation 13: The Government of Alberta, in consultation with its partners, must develop a "partnership resourcing formula" and clear funding commitments to address partnership and sector capacity issues. Adequate operational and project funding, released in a timely fashion, is critical for the success of these partnerships

Alberta Water Council:

13. Renewable Energy in East Central Alberta

This paper was updated for presentation in March 2009, when the Desired Energy Future was discussed. See Focus paper #24: Alternatives and Renewable Energy Information for East Central Alberta.

14. Coal Gasification in East Central Alberta

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project -October 2008.

Coal gasification is a process that converts coal into synthetic gas, or SynGas, by applying high temperatures, pressure, steam and controlled amounts of air or oxygen.

14.1. History

• The coal gasification process was first developed in the late 1700s in the United Kingdom and was widely commercialized around the world by the early 1900s.
• Prior to heating with natural gas in the 1940s, many North American and European cities used coal gas.
• Coal gas was also referred to as blue gas, producer gas, water gas, town gas or fuel gas.
• By the 1950s, in North America, natural gas replaced coal gas in most uses because it was readily available and more convenient than coal gas. Natural gas involved less processing and had a greater heating value and fewer contaminants.
• In the 1970s, the oil crises prompted a renewed interest in coal gasification and coal liquefaction technologies in North America as a mean of replacing or supplementing petroleum resources.
• However, the return of abundant and inexpensive gas supplies effectively killed the near-term commercial prospects of newer coal technologies.
• Recent interest and investment in coal gasification is primarily driven by economic factors relating to the demand and price of natural gas. In North America, natural gas demand has exceeded supply in almost all sectors leading to sustained high prices.
• Fertilizer and chemical production, and electricity generation have been largely dependent on natural gas feed stocks. Current natural gas prices have greatly constrained fertilizer production, driven up chemical costs, and pushed costs up for natural gas electricity generation plants.

History - East Central Alberta
• Coal has been mined (underground and surface operations) in East Central Alberta since the early 1900s.
• Tofield Coal Company, Black Nugget Coal, Burnstad Coal, Red Flame Coal and Camrose Collieries were some of the most productive historical mines in the area. All have been closed for many years.
• The Dodds Mine has operated since 1909 and is the last of the many small coal mines that once operated across Alberta. Dodds supplies many farms and greenhouse operations which, due to the price of natural gas, have converted their heating equipment to accommodate coal.

14.2. Process Description
• Coal gasification can be conducted on the surface or underground. It combines raw coal, high temperature and pressure in a controlled, limited-oxygen environment and results in syngas that is mainly composed of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
• Syngas can be scrubbed to remove various particles and trace metals that may be inherent in the feedstock. Following cleaning, the SynGas can be marketed as a viable commercial gas or, using carbon monoxide and hydrogen as basic building blocks, marketed for chemical or fertilizer production.
• Alternatively, the syngas can be further refined in a steam shift reactor to convert remaining carbon monoxide into additional hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
• Final cleaning is able to remove and convert hydrogen sulphide into elemental sulphur, is able to separate carbon dioxide as a concentrated, pure stream, and is able to separate the hydrogen. All three products have commercial applications, elemental sulphur and carbon dioxide have the potential for storage.

14.3. Sherritt's Dodds-Roundhill Gasification Plant
• In January 2007, Sherritt International announced that it would build Canada's first coal fed gasification plant near Camrose.
• Raw coal will be taken from the mine to a handling and storage facility where it will be crushed and stored and then dried at a coal milling and drying unit.
• The dry, crushed coal as well as oxygen and steam will be fed into gasifiers where the partial combustion of the coal will produce SynGas.
• The syngas will be cooled, scrubbed and mixed with steam and then fed into shift reactors where carbon monoxide will be converted to additional hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
• The acid gas removal process will capture pure streams of carbon dioxide and other impurities, such as hydrogen sulphide which will be converted into elemental sulphur.
• The clean syngas will then be further processed to produce hydrogen and a pure stream of carbon dioxide.

14.4. Strengths & Weaknesses

• A variety of end-products are possible, such as hydrogen, synthetic natural gas, chemicals, electricity and pure carbon dioxide.
• Coal gasification products could supplement or replace natural gas, including imported natural gas. Alberta's own natural gas may then be available for higher value uses.
• Coal gasification has the potential to achieve an extremely low carbon footprint.
• SynGas or its products may be transported using existing infrastructure and used in existing production n facilities with minimal conversion costs.

• A significant amount of water , not necessarily potable water, may be required depending on the end-product.
• Large surface mining operations will, in stages, displace agriculture and take farmland out of production for approximately a decade, depending on reclamation time.
• Coal gasification is not necessarily economically viable unless petroleum-based fuel prices are high.
• Carbon storage will be necessary and could be costly. Enhanced oil recovery operations provide an immediate opportunity for storage of substantial amounts of carbon dioxide.

14.5. Carbon Footprint (Carbon Dioxide Emitted into the Atmosphere)
• The coal gasification process has high carbon conversion efficiency, providing more product using less coal. In addition, approximately 97% of CO2 emissions can be captured at the plant and approximately 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions at the associated coal mine.
• Captured emissions may be used commercially or stored or permanently sequestered. Coal gasification has the potential to achieve an extremely low carbon footprint.
• Gasification also has potential to minimize SOx and NOx emissions efficiently and cost effectively. Over 99% of the sulphur produced can be recovered.

14.6. Trends and Uncertainties

• There is increasing interest internationally in gasification technology. It has the potential to introduce a higher value and more environmentally acceptable usage of coal when compared to conventional combustion for electricity generation.
• There is a trend toward employing newer coal technologies in Alberta. Given the characteristics of Alberta's sub-bituminous coals, it remains uneconomic to transport them any great distance.
• Major opportunities for sub-bituminous coal (the type found in East Central Alberta) will most likely remain in its conversion, at or near the mine mouth, to marketable, economically transportable products such as syngas, hydrogen and electricity.
• Greater use of sub-bituminous coal will result in greater production of carbon dioxide. Fortunately, technologies such as coal gasification make it easier and more economical to produce and capture this carbon dioxide in a purer, concentrated form without releasing it into the atmosphere.
• With the potential for increasing sub-bituminous coal development, there is growing interest in integrating coal carbon dioxide emissions into the Province's carbon dioxide emissions management system, the focus of which is currently on carbon capture storage and sequestration.

• Carbon emissions management will be an issue for coal development as coal has the highest carbon content of any hydrocarbons. Any new developments will need to address this issue.
• In order to be competitive, coal gasification requires a relatively high price of crude oil and natural gas. Natural gas prices need to remain at levels seen in the last few years for coal gasification to be economic.
• There have been no recent representative sales of coal lands in Alberta. Therefore a current market value of the coal within East Central Alberta cannot be determined at this time.
• A large portion of the coal in East Central Alberta is held by Sherritt International Corporation, either as titled minerals or Crown lease holdings. Future development of the coal resources in the region will depend considerably on the plans of Sherritt for its large Alberta coal holdings and where the East Central Alberta resources fit into its overall business plans.
• It is difficult to predict additional developments of the coal resource. There are other large coalfields in Alberta which may be preferred in terms of development either because of their location or the desired use of the coal.
• The capital cost of coal gasification projects is still high compared to other energy technologies.

14.7. Research and Studies
• The Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI) is currently working with interested companies and universities to develop broad capacity in Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) technologies . Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is when coal is converted insitu into synthetic gas.
• UCG has been used in the Soviet Union for 40 years and projects are underway in Australia, China, India, New Zealand, and South Africa.
• The application of UCG in Alberta will allow the exploitation of coal deposits that are currently too deep to be mined economically.
• One of the AERI's goals is to have one or more commercial demonstration plants converting low grade feedstocks into clean products by 2020 .
• There is potential for the creation of Energyplexes, which are integrated energy systems that can supply long-term energy demands. These facilities, primarily through gasification, could co-produce a variety of energy types (E.g. hydrogen, liquid fuels, electricity) .

Prepared by:
Alberta Energy

15. Potential Environmental Impacts of Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Process

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - October 2008.

15.1. Introduction

The information provided below provides a sampling of potential environmental impacts from Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) processes.

• All parameters listed below may potentially be parameters of concern.
• The lists provided below are not intended to be exhaustive or intended to capture all substances that should be monitored or could present a concern to the environment.
• The following is provided merely as a reflection of potential parameters found in the references cited.
• A detailed study will need to be conducted into the actual technology and feedstock selected. These two items will have a large impact on the magnitude and types of environmental impacts at the site.
• Potential environmental impacts are listed below according to the following sections: Carbon dioxide, Air, Solid Waste and Land, and Water.

15.2. Carbon Dioxide

• Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is produced as part of the gasification process.
• An IGCC facility typically requires auxiliary facilities (e.g. air separation unit) that may have an impact on overall plant efficiency.
• CO2 capture from a gasification process (resulting in the production of a synthetic gas) is typically characterized as pre-combustion capture.
• Under the current state, it appears that gasification (specifically IGCC) incurs less of an energy penalty than pulverized coal boilers or gas turbine combined cycle power plants if carbon capture is added as compared to combustion fossil fuel power plants.
• In January 2008, the Alberta government released Alberta's new Climate Change Strategy.
• The new approach builds on Alberta's 2002 climate change action plan, taking the next step to ensure Alberta remains at the forefront of addressing this global environmental issue.
• The strategy takes action on three fronts:
- Implementing carbon capture and storage;
- Greening energy production; and
- Conserving and using energy efficiently.

• In March 2008, the Alberta government announced the Alberta Carbon Capture and Storage Development Council.
- A partnership between governments, industry and scientific researchers, the council will develop a clear work plan for implementing carbon capture and storage in Alberta, complete with timing and expectations.
- The council is expected to report back to government in the fall.

• The Alberta government is also moving ahead on its climate change action plan with two new funds totaling $4 billion to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions equal to taking more than a million cars off the road each year.
• The province will create a $2-billion fund to advance carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects while a second $2-billion fund will propel energy-saving public transit in Alberta.
• Funds will be allocated to encourage construction of Alberta's first large-scale CCS projects.
• The province has issued a request for expressions of interest to begin identifying those CCS proposals with the greatest potential of being built quickly and those which provide the best opportunities to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
15.3. Air

• As mentioned above, technology choices and coal properties will determine parameters of concern and any emission levels of potential parameters of concern.
• Gasification facilities will need to meet all applicable regulations.
• With regards to air and depending on the technology and process choices and properties of the coal, potential parameters of concern may include:
- Major Criteria air pollutants: Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and metals; and
- Trace elements, ionic species, and organic compounds emissions.

15.4. Solid Waste and Land

• Coal ash (fly ash, including char or unreacted fuel, bottom ash and slag) is produced through the gasification process.
• Sulfur or sulfuric acid may also be produced.
• Both the above are listed as solid wastes but both can be products depending on the plants ability to sell them (e.g. for construction purposes or fertilizer respectively.)
• If they are unable to be marketed, disposal of the waste according to their properties and designations will be required.
• Site contamination (e.g. soil and groundwater contamination) can be minimized by considering storage stability, handling experience, and management practices.
• A concern with the utilization or disposal of coal utilization byproducts is the potential for ground water contamination.
• Contaminants may include: toxic trace elements arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and selenium, the semi-volatile and volatile trace elements that preferentially deposit on fly ash.
• Chlorides, fluorides, salts, and minerals may also pose a potential concern.
• Characterization and leachability tests of solid wastes will assist in determining potential environmental impacts.
• The footprint of the facility and magnitude of disturbance will be dependent on the type of plant and process equipment selected, auxiliary facilities required (e.g. air separation unit), and type of access to the resource (e.g. on site coal mine and equipment.)

15.5. Water

• Depending on the cooling method applied at the site or the properties of the site, cooling water may be required for the process in addition to any requirements for boiler feedwater (bfw) and process operations.
• Water quality, withdrawal rates, and water consumption are areas that will also be affected by technology and process choices.
• Water effluents can include:
- steam cycle wastewater (includes blowdowns from cooling towers and bfw purification systems) - salts and minerals may be potential parameters of concern;
- process water blowdown - dissolved solids and gases (including trace metals and trace organics), sulfide, chloride, fluoride, formate, nitrogen species (ammonium and ammonia), bicarbonate, arsenic, selenium, thiocyanate and cyanide may be potential parameters of concern.; and
- run-off from the coal and slag storage areas and process areas.

• The following were monitored for at either the Wabash River or LGTI river process waste water discharge: ammonia (as nitrogen), metals, pH, beryllium, chloride, manganese, chemical oxygen demand, arsenic, cyanide, selenium, aldehydes, volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile compounds.


Final Report - Environmental Footprints and Costs of Coal-Based Integrated
Gasification Combined Cycle and Pulverized Coal Technologies, United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA-430/R-06/006, July 2006
Gasification: Redefining Clean Energy, Gasification Technologies Council, 2008
Major Environmental Aspects of Gasification-based Power Generation Technologies - Final Report, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, December 2002

Prepared by:
Alberta Environment

16. Land Reclamation and Restoration: Challenges and Opportunities

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - October 2008.

In Alberta, reclamation is defined as the process of reconverting disturbed land to its former or other productive uses; rehabilitation implies that the land will be returned to a form and productivity in conformity with a prior land use plan; and, restoration is the process of restoring site conditions as they were before the land disturbance.

Source: Powter, C.B. (Compiler), 2002. Glossary of Reclamation and Remediation Terms Used in Alberta - 7th Edition, Alberta Environment, Science and Standards Branch, Edmonton, Alberta.

16.1. Introduction


(1) Rimmer, D.L.; Younger, A. 1997. "Land reclamation after coal mining operations." In: Contaminated Land and its Reclamation: Issues in Environmental Science and Technology. Eds Hester RE & Harrison RM. Pub. Royal Society of Chemistry, 7, 73-90.

(2) Hodge, R.A.; Killam, R. 2003. Post Mining Regeneration. Best Practice Review: North American Perspective. Prepared for ECUS Environmental Consultancy. Sheffield, England: University of Sheffield.

• Starting in the 1950s the development of large earth-moving equipment changed the economics of coal mining, such that deep underground mines became less profitable and were gradually closed. Coal was increasingly mined from the surface by what became known in the UK as "opencast mining", and in North America, more graphically, as "open pit mining".
• In contrast to the creation of derelict land by the deep mining of coal, surface mining only leads to temporary land disturbance. There is an obligation on operators to restore the land when mining ceases.
• The excavation of soil and rock overburden in order to reach the coal seams sometimes leads to the creation of large temporary storage heaps of soil and rock materials. These are subsequently replaced, but the soil is substantially disturbed in the process and the restored land requires prolonged and careful treatment to bring it back to its former state.
• In the early days of surface mining, the standards set were relatively modest and could easily be met, leading to some poor quality reclamations after which the productivity of the land was substantially reduced, and its use was restricted to relatively extensive grassland or forestry.
• As time has progressed, there has been a gradual improvement in reclamation standards and regulations with a wider range of vegetation management options now considered possible.
• Progress regarding reclamation practices in the last few years has also been motivated by industry's realization that its "social license to operate" was being seriously challenged. In this context, there is a trend towards expanding the mine planning time-horizon to encompass post-closure requirements (technical, environmental, and social).

16.2. Agricultural Land Reclamation after Coal-mining Operations


(1) Rimmer, D.L.; Younger, A. 1997. "Land reclamation after coal mining operations." In: Contaminated Land and its Reclamation: Issues in Environmental Science and Technology. Eds Hester RE & Harrison RM. Pub. Royal Society of Chemistry, 7, 73-90.

• The processes of removing, storing and subsequently replacing the soil during the mining activity each lead to potential problems in relation to reclamation. In this respect, a major distinction should be drawn between those sites where, for operational reasons, soil has to be stored for a period of years while the mining progresses and those (usually larger) sites where a progressive system of reclamation can be practiced.
• In progressive reclamation, the topsoil and subsoil are removed in sequence from the part of the site which is to be mined next, and taken directly to the part of the site where mining has been completed and finished contours have been established using overburden. There it is a direct placement in sequence without undergoing a period of storage.
• The problems with progressive restoration are principally associated with the damage to the soil structure caused by lifting and replacing the soil profile using heavy earthmoving equipment (compaction, reduced pore space, slower movement of excess water).
• However, the chemical properties of the soils, and therefore the availability of most plant nutrients, remain unaffected. Whilst the microbial populations in the soil may be little affected, there is evidence that the populations of larger organisms (earthworms) are adversely affected.
• Because of the problems of the horizontal layering of replaced soils and the compaction of each layer, crop rooting is often restricted and percolation of water into the soil is limited.
• Typically, rain falling on recently restored soils will wet the surface and then, failing to percolate, will either remain at the surface as waterloging or run off the surface, leading to rapid water loss and failure to recharge the soil moisture below the surface, as well as increasing the possibility of erosion on some of the more sloping land.
• In this context, the development of an effective drainage scheme is considered vital in order to begin the process of redevelopment of soil structure.
• In general, the first few years (e.g., 5 years) after soil replacement are devoted to maximizing soils structure development. For this purpose, cropping need not be geared towards maximum profit, and can include long-term grassland, or a cereal to hayland crop rotation that can assist with deeper root penetration.
• In terms of crop nutrient availability, most restored sites have pH values and phosphorus and potassium indices similar to those surrounding unworked land, and the availability of these nutrients is not usually a major problem. The supply of N, however, is often considerable reduced and will likely require application of extra fertilizer or manure.
• Thus, in the highly managed ecosystem which is modern agriculture, the cultivation of viable crops on land restored after surface mining is not too difficult.
• Increasingly, there is a need to be able to cultivate reclaimed areas for reasons other than agricultural output. For example, species-rich grasslands can provide interesting diverse ecosystems for many forms of wildlife, as well as being attractive themselves.
• Ecologically, the main attraction of such habitats is plan species diversity. This diversity will ultimately depend upon the establishment and maintenance of a diverse soil biotic system which will necessarily be more complex than required for commercial agriculture. This challenge remains to be fully addressed.

16.3. Ecological Restoration


(1) Mansourian, S. 2005. "Overview of forest restoration strategies and terms." In: Forest Restoration in Landscapes: Beyond Planting Trees. Eds Mansourian, S., D. Vallauri, N. Dudley. Springer, New York.

(2) Cooke, J.A.; Johnsons, M.S. 2002. Ecological restoration of land with particular reference to the mining of metals and industrial minerals: A review of theory and practice. Environmental Review 10: 41-71.

(3) Grant, J.; Dyer, S.; Woynillowicz, D. 2008. Fact or Fiction: Oil Sands Reclamation. Alberta: The Pembina Institute.

(4) M Marignani, D Rocchini, D Torri, A Chiarucci, S . Maccherini. 2008. Planning restoration in a cultural landscape in Italy using an object-based approach and historical analysis. Landscape and Urban Planning 84: 28-37.

• At the most basic level, the distinction between reclamation and restoration is one of utility. While the term reclamation describes the general process whereby the land surface is returned to some from that is of beneficial use to humans, restoration is far less associated with the utility of the landscape and is guided by ecological principles to promote the recovery of ecological integrity.
• Reclamation is a term commonly used in the context of mined lands in North America and the UK. It has as its main objectives the stabilization of the terrain, assurance of public safety, aesthetic improvement, and usually a return of the land to what, within the regional context, is considered to be a useful purpose.
• Ecological restoration is defined as the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. It is an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability.
• Ecological rehabilitation emphasizes the reparation of ecosystem processes, productivity and services, whereas the goals of restoration also include the reestablishment of the preexisting biotic integrity in terms of species' composition and community structure.
• It is important to note that definitions of ecological restoration/rehabilitation (as presented above) are still being debated, reflecting not only a theoretical/philosophical debate not only about this term but also about the ecologist's view of nature.
• Within this debate, ecological restoration is seen as a process driven by ecological knowledge and research, and not just the means of producing a "product" (e.g., restored pre-mining ecosystem).
• From this perspective, ecological restoration is about a broad set of activities (enhancing, repairing, or reconstructing degraded ecosystems) appropriate to the specific types (or severity) of disturbances and not the outcomes per se of such activities.
• Within this broad overview of restoration activities, the restoration of mined land can largely be considered as ecosystem reconstruction. However, from this theoretical point of view about nature the decision as to what to restore to becomes something of a moving target: Should it be an exact replica of the immediate pre-mining ecosystem, an ecologically superior (more pristine?) and perhaps historical standard, or even a future state, which is the condition that natural succession may have produced if not disturbance had occurred?
• Resilience is an important concept in restoration, and is defined as the ability of an ecosystem to recover following disturbance. Although it is difficult to measure ecosystem resilience, the concept is useful in thinking about different ecosystems types and their relative resilience.
• It is possible that some ecosystems may have low resilience such that even with costly restoration interventions they cannot be restored structurally and functionally after mining.
• Another important concept to consider in ecological restoration is "cultural landscape". Cultural landscapes have been defined by the World Heritage Committee as distinct geographical areas uniquely representing the combined work of nature and of man. This is part of an international effort to reconcile one of the most pervasive dichotomies in Western thought - that of nature as separated from society and culture.
• Restoration around cultural landscapes is particularly relevant in Europe, where countryside areas dominated by low-intensive agriculture contain a mosaic of significant wildlife habitats, which are the result of a dynamic equilibrium between human intervention and natural dynamics.
• In this context, it has been recognized that when dealing with cultural landscapes, a strict ecosystem restoration may have limited application, because this type of restoration also involves restoring the disturbance regime that corresponds to the particular cultural landscape being restored.

16.4. Timelines in Land Reclamation/Restoration


(1) Alberta Environment, pers. comm.

• While an exact timeline, in terms of reclamation or progressive reclamation is difficult to provide, there are lessons learned from coal mine development in Alberta.
• In most instances the eastern plains mines are able to progressively reclaim such that subsoil and topsoil are replaced immediately behind each progressive mine cut. Immediate vegetation in these circumstances commonly begins with either a cereal or hay crop species being selected.
• In other, more westerly plains mines, every effort is made to progressively reclaim or to reclaim up to disturbance limits, however variation in operational aspects (e.g. larger pre-strip dump stock piles, variation in subsoil/topsoil placement, and tree clearing) can delay reclamation to over one year to in some cases more than a couple years.
• The foothills mines and mountain mines are typically delayed significantly due to operational/reclamation backlogs and challenges associated with overburden material and quantity. Reclamation attempts to be progressive, however beyond leveling of overburden/spoil piles, the delays with subsoil/coversoil material can range from a number of years to around a decade. These areas are further challenged climatically, in that the mountainous regions represent a challenge in terms of tree growth.
• The foothills regions are able to grow trees quite well however it is delays in reclamation and then planting that cause delay. While we have a number of successes in foothills reclamation and certification, there are currently no certified mountain mine areas.
• There has been some testing related to the placement of farm style buildings (i.e. ag shop, equipment shed/buildings) on the reclaimed land surfaces, but we have seen no efforts at a residential front in this regard. Current information suggests that subsidence or settling may not constitute an insurmountable challenge, but further testing would be required. Zoning would also be an influential factor in reclamation strategies where residential is the proposed final use.

16.5. Assessing Success in Land Reclamation/Restoration


(1) Bellairs, S.M. 1999. "Development of success criteria for reestablishment of native flora habitats on coal mine rehabilitation areas in Australia." In: Remediation and Management of Degraded Lands. Eds Hester M. H. Wong, J. W. C. Wong, A. J. M. Baker. USA: Lewis Publishers/CRC Press.

(2) Smyth, C. R. P. Dearden. 1998. Performance standards and monitoring requirements of surface coal mine reclamation success in mountainous jurisdictions of western North America: A review. Journal of Environmental Management 53(3): 209-229.

(3) Grant, J.; Dyer, S.; Woynillowicz, D. 2008. Fact or Fiction: Oil Sands Reclamation. Alberta: The Pembina Institute.

(4) Ruiz-Jaen, M. C., T. M. Aide. 2005. Restoration success: how is it being measured? Restoration Ecology 13:569-577.

(5) Tischew S, Kirmer A. 2007. Implementation of basic studies in the ecological restoration of surface-mined land. Restoration Ecology 15 (2): 321-325

(6) Powter, C.B. (Compiler), 2002. Glossary of Reclamation and Remediation Terms Used in Alberta - 7th Edition, Alberta Environment, Science and Standards Branch, Edmonton, Alberta.

• Reclamation/restoration success after mining is difficult to assess. In general, success of reclamation/restoration is determined by sociopolitical considerations and from these, acceptability judgments or completion criteria are derived by the regulators and the company. They include site-specific criteria that may be related to the end land use and, increasingly, ecosystem functioning requirements such as sustainability and requiring minimal maintenance.
• For traditional land reclamation, mining is a "temporary land use", and reclamation to an "equivalent" level of land use is a requirement. The equivalency requirement varies from a very strict definition of equal productivity to equivalent capability.
• The Alberta system involves "equivalent capability" in the form of a return to pre-disturbance landforms and soil productivity, whereas the United States goes further in its biotic requirements (cover, biomass and species diversity) and its use of reference areas.
• "Equivalent land capability is the ability of the land to support various land uses after conservation and reclamation is similar to the ability that existed prior to an activity being conducted on the land, but that the individual land uses will not necessarily be identical." (Regulatory definition)(Powter, 2002)
• In Alberta, equivalent land capability is currently measured largely through the Canada Land Inventory. The critical features of capability are landscape form (primary slope), drainage and soil quality and quantity. There are seven classes used to rate agricultural land capability. Class 1 lands have the highest and Class 7 lands the lowest capability to support agricultural land use activities. In this context, it is expected that the percentage of land in a given capability class prior to disturbance should be returned following mining.
• The Society of Ecological restoration International (SER) produced a Primer that provides a list of nine ecosystem attributes as a guideline for measuring restoration success: 1) similar diversity and community structure in comparison with reference sites; (2) presence of indigenous species; (3) presence of functional groups necessary for long-term stability; (4) capacity of the physical environment to sustain reproducing populations; (5) normal functioning; (6) integration with the landscape; (7) elimination of potential threats; (8) resilience to natural disturbances; and (9) self-sustainability.
• Although measuring these attributes could provide an excellent assessment of restoration success, few studies have the financial resources to monitor all these attributes. Furthermore, estimates of many attributes often require detailed long-term studies, but the monitoring phase of most restoration projects rarely lasts for more than 5 years.
• In practice, most studies around ecological restoration focus on three major ecosystem attributes. These attributes are (1) species diversity; (2) vegetation structure (e.g., herbs, shrubs, trees); and (3) ecological processes such as nutrient cycling.
• The evaluation of restoration success is highly complicated by the uncertainty of predictions following nature conservation measures within the scope of remediation processes. In this context, the scientific bases are insufficient for the selection of indicators with umbrella effects, the definition of thresholds and evaluation criteria, or the statistical validation of trends.

Prepared by:
Alberta Environment

17. Ecological Goods and Services and Agriculture

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - October 2008.

17.1. Introduction
• During the last two decades a series of agri-environmental programs have been introduced throughout the developed world to address the negative environmental consequences or externalities of agriculture (Pretty et al. 2001). Examples include the Conservation Reserve Program in the United States, the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme in the European Union, Landcare in Australia, and the Environmental Farm Plan initiative and National Farm Stewardship Program in Canada (Hodge 2001; Robinson 2006).
• Though the details and operation of these programs vary, the majority have generally relied upon voluntary adoption of agricultural beneficial management practices (BMPs), with technical and financial support from government (Robinson 2006; Smith 2006).
• An emerging point of view on agriculture and the environment, however, recognizes that agricultural systems also provide a significant amount of positive externalities to society, including a wide variety of ecological goods and services (EG&S), and thus farmers should also be rewarded for providing such services (Gerowitt et al. 2003; Smith 2006).
• This point of view is rooted, among other things, on the European notion that agriculture is inherently multifunctional - in addition to producing food and fibre and functioning as an economic industry, it has unique environmental and social functions (FAO 1999; OECD 2003; Gagnon et al. 2005).

The Multifunctionality of Agriculture
Economic Functions

- Food production

- Fibre production

- Agri-tourism

- Rural employment

Environmental Functions

- Ecological goods and services (air and water quality, climate regulation, etc.)

- Landscapes

- Biodiversity

Social Functions

- Preserving traditional knowledge and existing assets

- Maintaining land occupancy

- Animal welfare

Figure 1. The multifunctional nature of agriculture (adapted from Gagnon et al. 2005)

• In general, the economic functions of agriculture are given a value by the market since they generate tradeable goods and farmers are paid for them, but the environmental and social functions are not valued or paid for due to the absence of supply and demand mechanisms for them (Gagnon et al. 2005). This can be seen as a market failure, resulting in the underproduction of environmental and social goods and services from agriculture.
• Debate over multifunctionality thus rests on whether or not it is appropriate to artificially correct this market failure. While some believe that support for multifunctional agriculture is warranted, it is also argued that many other sectors produce positive externalities and non-market goods that should be valued and supported, and that agriculture should not be supported over and above these other sectors (Anderson 2000).
• As the concept of multifunctionality encompasses a wide range of goods and services associated with agricultural production, it is important to note that EG&S refers only involves the positive ecological externalities of agriculture.

17.2. Defining Ecological Goods & Services
• Ecological goods and services are generally defined as the benefits that humans derive from healthy, functioning ecosystems (Brown et al. 2006).
• Ecological services provide life support systems to the planet, including air and water purification and nutrient cycling, as well as intangible and aesthetic benefits to humans (Brown et al. 2006).
• Ecological goods are the material products that result from ecosystems, such as seafood, forage, timber, fibre, and pharmaceuticals (Daily 1997).
• It is acknowledged that healthy rural landscapes and agricultural production systems can provide a number of EG&S (Randall 2002; Gerowitt et al. 2003; Gagnon et al. 2005). Agricultural producers manage the landscape for the primary purpose of producing food, but in the process they can provide EG&S through the creation, retention, and stewardship of healthy ecosystems (Agricultural Institute of Canada 2005).
• Cropland, for example, in addition to food production, provides wildlife habitat, aesthetic values, soil erosion control, and carbon sequestration, all of which are considered EG&S (Hopkins and Morris 2002).

Ecological goods and services that can be provided by agriculture (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005)

17.3. Valuing Ecological Goods & Services
• In order to encourage the production of these multiple beneficial outputs, the concept of payments for EG&S is gaining consideration in the developed world. Before EG&S can be paid for, however, their value and the public's willingness to pay for them must first be understood.
• Ecosystem valuation is difficult and fraught with uncertainties. The exercise of valuing ecosystem services consists of determining the differences that changes in these services make to human wellbeing (Costanza et al. 1997). These changes in benefits and costs either have an impact on human wellbeing through established markets or non-market activities (Costanza et al. 1997).
• For example, agricultural systems provide food and fibre through well-established economic markets, but also hold soil and moisture and provide wildlife habitat, all of which contribute to human wellbeing in non-market ways.
• While the value of marketable agricultural goods and services is easy to ascertain, the value of non-market goods and services is less so. Commonly, economists use what a society would be willing to pay for a service provided by the environment - a concept known as willingness-to-pay (WTP) (Farber et al. 2002).
• There are several economic valuation techniques that are used to ascertain public WTP for ecological goods and services. Some of the more common include Avoided Cost, Replacement Cost, and Contingent Valuation (Farber et al. 2002). Avoided Cost is the cost that EG&S allows society to avoid, which would have been incurred in absence of those services (e.g., the property damage costs that are saved by natural flood control in wetlands). Replacement Cost is the cost of replacing EG&S with man-made systems (e.g., the cost of replacing carbon sequestration by crops with technological systems for doing so). Finally, Contingent Valuation is ascertained by asking people hypothetical questions as to their WTP for EG&S (e.g., people may be willing to pay for maintenance of biodiversity or natural areas).
• Using these methods, ecological economists have attempted to estimate the value of many of the planet's EG&S. For example, Costanza and others (1997) estimated the total value of the world's ecosystem services to be in the range of US$16 to 54 trillion per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. They also estimated that EG&S from cropland is worth US$92 per hectare per year, which adds up to a total value of US$12.8 billion worldwide.
• Rather than using the entire economic or monetary value of EG&S, however, many EG&S schemes utilize a system of rates, which are easier to access. Such rates are often based on the value of the agricultural production that is foregone in order to produce EG&S, the market value of the land, or the cost of implementing the beneficial practice, and rates are often determined by regional working groups based on relevant factors (Gagnon et al. 2005).

17.4. Paying for Ecological Goods & Services
• Several mechanisms have been proposed in the developed world for paying for EG&S in agriculture, including indirect and direct mechanisms. In each of these cases, there must be a buyer as well as a seller of the EG&S. In agriculture, the seller is usually the farmer or landowner, and the buyer is either the government or individuals (which includes NGOs or private organizations) (Brown et al. 2006).
• Through indirect mechanisms, agricultural producers can receive remuneration for providing certain EG&S by gaining eco-certification. For example, certified organic producers can receive a higher price for their product because they have modified their production practices in such a way that incorporates environmental considerations (Gagnon et al. 2005). The value added that producers obtain for EG&S through environmental marketing is indirect since it is associated with the agri-food product rather than the EG&S themselves (Brown et al. 2006).
• Direct one-time or ongoing payments for EG&S explicitly pay farmers for provision of these services. One-time payments can include things such as grants for upgrading equipment or implementing best management practices (Gagnon et al. 2005). Ongoing direct payments through agri-environmental programs integrate the environmental function as a source of continuous income for farmers (Pagiola and Platais 2002).
• Ongoing direct payments for EG&S can come from private or public sources. Public direct payments involve payments from taxpayers through governments for providing EG&S, whereas private direct payments come from privately directed investment in EG&S, such as from environmental NGOs (Agricultural Institute of Canada 2005).
• Direct ongoing payments are provided to farmers usually through a contract, which specifies the value and type of payment to the farmer in return for provision of a well-defined EG&S over time (Gagnon et al. 2005).

17.5. Challenges for Ecological Goods & Services in Agriculture
• One of the earliest concerns regarding EG&S had to do with its compatibility with World Trade Organization (WTO) trade and subsidy regulations (Potter and Burney 2002). When the first direct payments were made to farmers for maintaining environmental quality in the UK, many felt that these payments acted as unfair, trade distorting subsidies (Anderson 2000). This challenge has since been overcome, however, as subsequent negotiations have determined that such "green payments" are WTO-legal, as they are not tied to crop production outputs (Dobbs and Pretty 2004; Wossink 2005).There may be concerns related to trade distortion for EGS programs under other trade agreements.
• Among the most significant challenges facing programs for EG&S is that of scientifically demonstrating and measuring the benefits of the services provided by landowners; producers have to be able to show that they are delivering results and value for the money they are being paid (Campbell 2006).
• EG&S schemes require reliable scientific knowledge of ecosystems as well as the relationship between land uses and the provision of EG&S, but this information can be difficult and costly to obtain (Mayrand and Paquin 2004). For example, one weakness of watershed-based EG&S schemes is the difficulty in linking specific land uses with provision of water services. Carbon sequestration, however, tends to be easier to measure and quantify in relation to land use (Mayrand and Paquin 2004).
• If markets for EG&S are to be operated through fee-for-service business transactions, where buyers pay farmers to provide specific EG&S, there must be a way to measure ecological benefits of farm practices in order to demonstrate the services being provided to society, or the buyer. This is one area that requires much further research and investment if EG&S is going to be successful on any large scale.
• Mores practical constraint to EG&S come in deciding how to implement the programs on the ground. While schemes that target specific areas, ecological needs, or landowners are less expensive and allow for tailoring to local issues (Pagiola and Platais 2002), the issue of targeting payments for EG&S has important implications for equity (Campbell 2006). For instance, is it fair that a farmer in one region gets paid to produce EG&S that farmers in other regions are producing for free?
• Also, targeting specific types of rural landowners can also have equity implications. For instance, is it fair to provide EG&S payments to agricultural producers but not to rural non-farm owners? These important issues will have to be addressed within the development of any scheme for paying landowners for provision of EG&S.
• It is also important to note that EG&S programming must compliment other policy tools such as regulation and education and extension to be most effective.

Agricultural Institute of Canada. 2005. Introduction to Ecological Goods and Services - Prairie Habitat Joint Venture. Ottawa, ON: Agricultural Institute of Canada.
Anderson, K. 2000. Agriculture's "multifunctionality" and the WTO. The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 44(3):475-494.
Brown, T.C., Bergstrom, J.C., and J.B. Loomis. 2006. Ecosystem Goods and Services: Definition, Valuation and Provision. RMRS-RWU-4851 Discussion Paper. Fort Collins, Colorado: U.S. Forest Service.
Campbell, I. 2006. Alternative for dealing with agri-environmental issues. Representative of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Presented at Valuing Nature and your Land! Workshop, November 23, 2006, Brussels, Ontario.
Costanza, R., D'Arge, R., de Groot, R., Farber, S., Grasso, M., Hannon, B., Limburg, K., Naeem, S., O'Neill, R.V., Paruelo, J., Raskin, R.G., Sutton, P., and M. van den Belt. 1997. The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature, 387:253-260.
Daily, G.C. 1997. Introduction: what are ecosystem services? In Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems, ed. G.C. Daily, 1-10. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
Dobbs, T.L., and J.N. Pretty. 2004. Agri-environmental stewardship schemes and "multifunctionality". Review of Agricultural Economics, 26(2):220-237.
Ducks Unlimited. 2006. Natural Values: Linking the Environment to the Economy - Natural Capital and Ecological Goods & Services. Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Farber, S.C., Costanza, R., and M.A. Wilson. 2002. Economic and ecological concepts for valuing ecosystem services. Ecological Economics, 41:375-392.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO]. 1999. Cultivating Our Futures: Taking Stock of the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land. Paper prepared for FAO/Netherlands Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land, 12-17 September 1999, Maastricht, The Netherlands. Rome, Italy: FAO.
Gagnon, B., St. Onge, F., and M. Gagnon. 2005. Remuneration for Ecological Goods and Services Provided by Agriculture: Elements for a Quebec Analysis. Ottawa, ON: Ministere de l'Agriculture, des Pecheries, et de l'Alimentation du Quebec and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Gerowitt, B., Isselstein, J., and R. Marggraf. 2003. Rewards for ecological goods and services - requirements and perspectives for agricultural land use. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 98:541-547.
Hodge, I. 2001. Beyond agri-environmental policy: towards an alternative model of rural environmental governance. Land Use Policy, 18:99-111.
Hopkins, A., and Morris, C. 2002. Multi-functional roles of grassland in organic farming systems. Paper presented at UK Organic Research 2002 Conference, Aberystwyth, 26-28 March 2002. Published in Powell, J., Ed. Proceedings of the UK Organic Research 2002 Conference, 75-80. Organic Centre Wales, Institute of Rural Studies, University of Wales Aberystwyth.
Mayrand, K., and M. Paquin. 2004. Payments for Environmental Services: A Survey and Assessment of Current Schemes. Montreal, QC: Unisféra International Centre.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. 2003. Multifunctionality: The Policy Implications. Paris, France: OECD.
Pagiola, S., and G. Platais. 2002. Payments for Environmental Services. World Bank Environment Strategy Notes, May 2002, No.3. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
Potter, C., and J. Burney. 2002. Agricultural multifunctionality in the WTO - legitimate non-trade concern or disguised protectionism? Journal of Rural Studies, 18:35-47.
Pretty, J., Brett, C., Gee, D., Hine, R., Mason, C., Morison, J., Rayment, M., Van der Bijl, G., and T. Dobbs. 2001. Policy challenges and priorities for internalizing the externalities of modern agriculture. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 44(2):263-283.
Randall, A. 2002. Valuing the outputs of multifunctional agriculture. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 29(3):289-307.
Robinson, G.M. 2006. Canada's environmental farm plans: transatlantic perspectives on agri-environmental schemes. The Geographic Journal, 172(3):206-218.
Smith, K. 2006. Public payments for environmental services from agriculture: precedents and possibilities. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 88(5):1167-1173.
Swainson, R. 2007. Payment for Ecological Goods and Services: An Innovation in Agri-Environmental Management. Unpublished Term Paper. GEOG*6200 Land Use and Agricultural Systems. Department of Geography, University of Guelph.
Wossink, A. 2005. Estimating farmers' willingness to accept payment for ecosystem services. Paper presented at the Valuation of Ecosystems in Agriculture Workshop, Augusta, MI, October 25-28, 2005.

Prepared by:
Alberta Environment

18. Summary of Land Tenure Statistics for East Central Alberta

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - October 2008.

18.1. Introduction

• County level data was not available from the 2001 Census of Agriculture (COA), so we compared Census Divisions to show general trends in land ownership.
• Beaver and Camrose Counties comprise approximately 32.5 percent of Census Division 10.
• Flagstaff County comprises approximately 21 percent of Census Division 7.

18.2. Comparison of Census Divisions to Show Trends in Land Tenure (Table 1)

Census Division 10

• Area of farmland owned and area of farmland leased from governments showed a slight to moderate decrease from 2001 to 2006 in both number of farms reporting and total acres.
• Area of farmland rented or leased from others was the only category that showed an increase from 2001 to 2006. Total acres increased by almost 20 percent from 1.2 million to 1.4 million acres. However, number of farms reporting farmland rented or leased from others only increased 0.7 percent from 2,240 to 2,256 farms.
• Area of farmland crop shared from others decreased by almost 30 percent in both number of farms reporting and total acres.

Census Division 7

• The total area of farmland owned has decreased overall. The numbers of farms reporting owned land has decreased by 8 percent but total acres of farmland owned has only decreased by 3 percent
• Although number of farms reporting remained generally constant (less than 0.5 percent increase) for farmland leased from governments, the total acres decreased by about 4.5 percent from 424,690 to 405,394 acres from 2001 to 2006.
• Acres of farmland rented or leased from others increased by approximately 16 percent from 2001 to 2006, while total number of farms reporting in this category decreased slightly by about 1.5 percent.
• Area of farmland crop shared from others decreased significantly in both numbers of farms reporting (decrease of 33 percent) and total acres (decrease of 34 percent).

18.3. Land Tenure by County for 2006 (Table 2)

• Private ownership is most common form of land tenure in all three counties (Beaver County at 440,035 acres, Camrose County at 546,268 acres and Flagstaff County at 646,727 acres).
• Number of farms reporting land rented or leased from others is the second most common form of land tenure, however acres of land rented or leased from others is not available for Camrose or Flagstaff Counties (suppressed to meet confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act).
• Number of farms reporting land crop shared from others is around one hundred farms per county; however acres vary (37,289 for Beaver, 43,749 for Camrose and 53,810 for Flagstaff).
• Land area used though other arrangements (Statistics Canada does not appear to provide further explanation on what "other arrangements" might mean) is the least common form of land tenure; however in Camrose and Beaver Counties, number of farms reporting is not far behind number of farms reporting farmland leased from governments.

Prepared by:
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

Focus Papers - Workshop #4

19. Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S)

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - November 2008.

19.1 Introduction

(1) DUC. Natural Values: Linking the Environment to the Economy. <>

• Natural resources and ecosystems such as forests and wetlands are often referred to as natural capital. Natural capital is as crucial to the viability of our economy as our human and manufactured capital (e.g. machinery, real estate) are.
• Natural capital yields ecological goods and services over time, such as lumber, water for human health and livelihood, air and water quality, food production (crops and fisheries) and raw materials for manufacturing.
• Wetlands are a significant type of natural capital, rich in productivity and diversity. However, they are also one of the Earth's most threatened ecosystems.
• According to DUC and others, wetlands continue to be lost because society does not understand their true environmental and economic value.

Environmental values from wetlands:
- Wetlands are natural filters that improve water quality. They help neutralize a number of different contaminants. Wetlands remove nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from water that flows into lakes, streams, rivers and groundwater.
- Wetlands recharge our groundwater. If wetlands are destroyed (drained, converted to another land use), groundwater levels will be reduced. Wetlands overlying porous soil may release up to 153,186 litres/hectare/day into groundwater.
- Wetlands help control floods by storing large amounts of water. Conversely, when wetlands are destroyed, the probability of a rainfall event causing flooding and floodwater damage increases significantly.
- Wetlands have the potential to remove and store greenhouse gases from the Earth's atmosphere.
- Wetlands provide habitat for over 600 species of wildlife - including more than one-third of Canada's species at risk.

Economic values from wetlands:
When wetlands are drained or degraded, there is a financial cost incurred by society to replace the ecological goods and services these wetlands provided, such as:
- Increased water treatment costs
- Increased illness and health care costs
- Irrigation water shortage
- Water hauling and deeper wells required
- Increased insurance costs due to flooding
- Decreased property value due to degraded aesthetic qualities
- Decreased swimming/fishing opportunities
- Decreased revenues from tourism activities associated with healthy ecosystems

• Natural capital is almost always overlooked in the calculation of national's assets, even though the goods and services it provides are vital to the sustained health and survival of our population and economy.
• As with other forms of capital, the value of natural capital can be depreciated. Each time we lose another hectare of natural land, we are depreciating our asset base and losing the goods and services that they once provided.
• There are many goods and services only natural capital can provide. There are no substitutes that humans can create. We may only recognize the loss of important ecosystems once they are gone - a loss that is often irreversible.
• Valuing natural capital is straightforward when the good or service has a market value (e.g. fish, timber). However, in many cases, the goods or services of interest do not have a market value.

19.2 The case for the valuation of ecosystem services


(1) Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, UK. 2007. An introductory guide to valuing ecosystem services.

• The underlying case for the valuation of ecosystem services is that it will contribute towards better decision-making, ensuring that policy appraisals fully take into account the costs and benefits to the natural environment.
• Valuing ecosystem services serves a number of purposes. Valuing the benefits - both current and future - from the natural environment illustrates its significant contribution to wellbeing and the high dependency of society on its ecological base.
• In a policy appraisal context, valuing ecosystem services can help in: determining whether a policy intervention that alters an ecosystem condition delivers net benefits to society; providing evidence on which to base decisions on 'value for money' and prioritising funding; choosing between competing uses, e.g. of land use; assessing liability for damage to the environment; and in wider communication e.g. to the public and land managers on the value of the environment.
• Adopting an ecosystem services framework may provide new insights for policy development, for example, in understanding how conservation policies in the future can be best targeted to deliver environmental priorities. It may also help in creating markets for services, including payments for ecosystem services, as valuation provides evidence to underpin the development of such policy instruments.
• Although guidance already exists to help capture some of these environmental impacts, using an ecosystem services framework potentially allows the analyst to capture the full range of environmental impacts more systematically, linking ecological effects to changes in human welfare.
• While many environmental impacts are incorporated within policy appraisal and progress has been made in valuing these impacts, in practice it has proved difficult to incorporate impacts on ecosystems with the risk that the value of these impacts are not fully accounted for in decision-making.
• The use of ecosystem services as a framework is seen as an opportunity to overcome some of these difficulties, but many challenges remain. Regulating services represent one particular category of ecosystem services that is not generally considered within policy appraisal at present and where a greater focus could be very useful.

19.3 Defining Ecosystem Services


(1) Fisher, B.; Costanza, R.; Turner, R.K.; Morling, P. 2007. Defining and Classifying Ecosystem Services for Decision Making. CSERGE Working Paper EDM 07-04.

(2) Hein, L., van Koppen, K., de Groot, R.S., and van Ierland, E.C. 2006. Spatial scales, stakeholders and the valuation of ecosystem services. Ecological Economics 57:209- 228.

• Ecosystem services research has become an important area of investigation over the past decade. The significance of the concept is witnessed by the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), a monumental work involving over 1300 scientists.
• One of the most utilized classifications for ecosystem services comes from the MA, dividing ecosystem services into supporting, regulating, provisioning and cultural services (Table 1).
• According to Fisher et al. (2007), there is no single classification system for ecosystem services that is appropriate for use in all cases. For them, a classification system should be informed by: 1) the characteristics of the ecosystem under investigation; and 2) the decision-making context for which ecosystem services are being considered.
• They suggest instead that there needs to be a clear and consistent definition of what ecosystem services are. For example, using the MA definition, i.e. benefits to humans, then the characteristics of importance include things outside of ecological systems such as imputed cultural meanings. However, if ecosystem services are defined as ecological phenomena, then the characteristics we are interested in are characteristics of ecological systems only.

Table 1 - List of ecosystem services (Hein et al 2006)

Category Definition Examples
Production Services Production services reflect goods and services produced in the ecosystem Provision of:
-Fodder (including grass from pastures)
-Fuel (including wood and dung)
-Timber, fibers and other raw materials
-Biochemical and medicinal resources
-Genetic resources
Regulation Services Regulation services result from the capacity of ecosystems to regulate climate, hydrological and bio-chemical cycles, earth surface processes, and a variety of biological processes -Carbon sequestration
-Climate regulation through regulation of albedo, temperature and rainfall patterns
-Regulation of the timing and volume of river and ground water flows
-Protection against floods by coastal or riparian systems
-Regulation of erosion and sedimentation
-Regulation of species reproduction (nursery function)
-Breakdown of excess nutrients and pollution
-Regulation of pests and pathogens
-Protection against storms
-Protection against noise and dust
-Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF)
Cultural Services Cultural services relate to the benefits people obtain from ecosystems through recreation, cognitive development, relaxation, and spiritual reflection -Nature and biodiversity (provision of a habitat for wild plant and animal species)
-Provision of cultural, historical and religious heritage (e.g., a historical landscape or a sacred forests)
-Provision of scientific and educational information
-Provision of opportunities for recreation and tourism
-Provision of attractive landscape features enhancing housing and living conditions (amenity service)
-Provision of other information (e.g., cultural or artistic inspiration)

•Fisher et al. propose that ecosystem services are the aspects of ecosystems utilized (actively or passively) to produce human well-being. Defined this way, ecosystem services include ecosystem organization or structure as well as process and/or functions if they are consumed or utilized by humanity either directly or indirectly.
•Ecosystem structure is a service to the extent that it provides the platform from which ecosystem processes occur. How much structure and process is required to provide a diversity of ecosystem services in a given ecosystem context is still an active research question.
•Ecosystem structure and function have been identified and studied for years with no reference to the services to humans, which they also provide. So, while most (if not all) ecosystem structures and processes do provide services they are not the same thing.

19.4 Perspectives on Values of Environmental Goods and Services


(1) Costanza, R., D'Arge, R., de Groot, R., Farber, S., Grasso, M., Hannon, B., Limburg, K., Naeem, S., O'Neill, R.V., Paruelo, J., Raskin, R.G., Sutton, P., and M. van den Belt. 1997. The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature, 387:253-260.

(2) Farber, S. C., Costanza, R., Wilson, M. A. 2002. Economic and ecological concept of valuing ecosystem services. Ecological Economics, 41 375-392.

•Terms 'value', 'valuation' and 'value system' have a range of meanings which all influence the "value of EGS"
•For example, economists like Costanza and others (1997) estimated the total value of the world's ecosystem services to be in the range of US$16 to 54 trillion per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Ecologists may speak of the "value" of particular tree species in controlling soil erosion in high slope areas, or the value of fires in recycling nutrients in the forest
•These are just some of the many multiple perspectives on values which are based on a 'value system' which generally refers to a framework people use to assign importance and necessity to their beliefs and actions
•'Valuation' is the process of expressing a value for a particular action or object. The two perspectives on values described above are result of two different valuation approach, both equally valid for their particular uses
•Valuation process needs to distinguish between intrinsic and instrumental values
•Intrinsic value system recognizes the value of any action or object by its contribution to maintaining the health and integrity of an ecosystem or species, irrespective of human satisfaction.
•Instrumental value reflects the difference the environmental goods and services makes to satisfaction of human preferences.
•In the context of environmental goods and services valuation, current approach such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment uses instrumental value system. This Assessment links human well being to environmental conditions. Valuation in this context measures the impact in human well being as a result of environmental conditions.
•There are many approaches to measuring human well being with economics being one of them these approaches.
•Economic approach uses a instrumental value framework in assessing human well being. Values from the environment are understood to satisfy a range of human uses. For example, river can be a source for domestic and industrial water use, river can also provide recreational opportunities like fishing and canoeing, people may also derive satisfaction in simply knowing that the river exists to provide habitat for fish and wildlife. All of these uses contribute to people's sense of well being which is typically expressed in monetary equivalents.
•Valuation from economic perspective is the process of assigning monetary values to these types of diverse uses based on different methodological approaches.
•Environmental valuation should focus on incremental not total value. For example, the total value of world's ecosystem services is infinite since we cannot survive without them. But rarely are we faced with "all or nothing" situation. In reality, the choice could be for example, leaving a little more water in the river versus using more for industrial use. Valuation attempts to quantify this change between the two conditions, not the value of all the water in the river. The purpose of valuation is to assign monetary measures of people's preferences for outcomes of policy proposals or events (like the choice between different amounts of water to be let in the river)
•Using the monetary measures facilitates comparisons with the money costs of other policies and programs
•In cases of ecological threshold uncertainty or irreversibility, valuation is not appropriate since valuation assumes that the system is able to adapt to changes without compromising the overall functioning of the system.

Other Sources on EG&S

Worbets, B. and L. Berdahl. 2003. Western Canada's Natural Capital: Toward a New Public Policy Framework. Calgary: CanadaWest Foundation.
WRI. 2008. Ecosystem Services: A Guide for Decision Makers.
Gabor, T.S, A. Kiers North, L.C.M. Ross, H.R. Murkin, J.S. Anderson, M.A. Turner and M. Raven. 2004. Natural Values: The importance of wetlands & upland conservation practices in watershed management - function and values for water quality and quantity. 54 pp. DUC.
Olewieler, N. 2004. The Value of Natural Capital in Settled Areas of Canada. Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Focus Papers - Workshop #5

20. Farm Size in East Central Alberta
The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - December 2008.

•Statistics Canada defines a census farm as an agricultural operation that produces at least one of the following products intended for sale: crops, livestock, poultry, animal products or other agricultural products (e.g. Christmas trees, mushrooms, sod, etc.). The term "intended for sale" implies intent on realizing revenue, as opposed to a subsistence farming operation.

•Generally, for statistics purposes, a farm is defined not by the area it occupies, but rather by the gross farm receipts from the previous year. This method of farm size classification is preferred because there is little correlation between acreage and revenue. For example, an intensive livestock operation may realize much greater revenue than a grain farm even though it occupies much less area. Greenhouse operations are another example of high value speciality crops being grown on small land areas.

•However, actual farm land area can still provide other valuable insights as to the current state of agriculture in a region, such as land ownership (i.e. a few owners with large farms vs. many owners with smaller farms). However, it is difficult to draw sweeping conclusions with regards to the impact of farm land size (i.e. acres) on the overall state of agriculture in East Central Alberta.

•Although any classification system is arbitrary, the following is an example of a size breakdown used by Statistics Canada:

Table 1. Statistics Canada Example of Farm Size
Breakdown by Revenue

Size Category Annual Revenue
Hobby Under $10,000
Very Small $10-25,000
Small $25-50,000
Medium $50-100,000
Medium Large $100-250,000
Large $250-500,000
Very Large Over $500,000

•According to Statistics Canada, the revenue category containing the greatest number of farms (620) within East Central Alberta is the $100,000 - $249,000 range. Using the ARD size breakdown given in Table 1, this size range could be classified as Medium Large.

•Since the Statistics Canada breakdown (Table 1) is general for all of Alberta, it appears that the average farm size by revenue for the East Central region could be comparable to that of Alberta.

Table 2. Farms Classified by Total Gross Farm Receipts for East Central Alberta

Total Gross Farm Receipts (2005) Number of Farms per County Total East Central
Beaver Camrose Flagstaff
under 10,000 141 164 75 380
10,000 - 24,999 148 191 95 434
25,000 - 49,999 111 173 93 377
50,000 - 99,999 125 156 120 401
100,000 - 249,999 154 257 209 620
250,000 - 499,999 76 147 140 363
500,000 - 999,999 31 39 42 112
1,000,000 - 1,999,999 6 16 8 30
Over 2,000,000 3 6 8 17

•This graph is a visual representation of Table 2.

Graph 1. Number of Farms vs. Total Gross Farm Receipt Categories for East Central Alberta.

•Although actual land size (acres) is not correlated to revenue, the data is still a valuable and interesting "snapshot" of the agricultural landscape and a summary is provided below.

Farm Size (Acres) Beaver Camrose Flagstaff Total East Central
Under 10 11 29 26 66
10 to 69 90 103 44 237
70 - 129 44 69 14 127
130 - 179 84 178 65 327
180 - 239 27 42 12 81
240 - 399 94 164 73 331
400 - 559 65 82 58 205
560 - 759 76 108 58 242
760 - 1,119 108 140 119 367
1,120 - 1,599 67 90 100 257
1,600 - 2,239 56 79 89 224
2,240 - 2,879 30 28 48 106
2,880 - 3,519 17 13 32 62
Over 3,520 26 24 52 102

*Taken from Statistics Canada Census of Agriculture - 2006 Farm Data and Farm Operator Data Tables

Prepared by:
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

21. Municipal Governance and Planning Structure

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - December 2008.

Municipal purposes (section 3)
•to provide good government
•to provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality, and
•to develop safe and viable communities.

Powers, duties and functions of a municipality (section 5)
•A municipality has the powers, duties and functions given to it by the MGA and other enactments.
•The MGA provides municipalities the authority to establish "local laws" in the form of bylaws. Some bylaws are mandatory.
•Municipalities also impose duties upon themselves by setting policy or by bylaw (e.g., procedural bylaw; calling the CEO position by another name; etc.).

Global functions, not stated in the MGA but implied and understood, include:
•Effective use of funds

Natural person powers (section 6)
•A municipality has natural person powers, except to the extent that they are limited by the MGA or any other enactment.
•As a corporation, a municipality is an "individual" (legal entity) in law, and the provision allows it to do in law what any individual can do, except where legislation limits the municipality.

Decision making
•The council is the governing body of the municipal corporation and the custodian of its powers, both legislative and administrative (section 142).
•The MGA provides that councils can only exercise the powers of the municipal corporation in the proper form, either by bylaw or by resolution (section 180).

Council boards and committees (section 145)
Each municipality is governed by a council. A council may pass bylaws in relation to the following:

•the establishment and function of council committees and other bodies
•the procedures and conduct of council, council committees and other bodies established by council and the conduct of members of council committees and other bodies established by the council.
•Council creates council committees and appoints committee members.
•Council may decide to create a temporary committee to look at a specific issue.
•There may also be standing committees. Standing committees run from year to year to deal with ongoing issues.
•Committees may play a significant role in making decisions on issues for council. If council wants a committee to make decisions, council may delegate some of its powers to the committee. Then, if a committee makes a decision delegated to it by council, it is as if the council made the decision itself. Some council decisions, such as adopting the budget, cannot be delegated.
•You may have some specific responsibilities in the case of a local emergency and you will need to know what those responsibilities are and how they are to be carried out.

Planning and Development: Part 17 of the MGA - Purpose of this Part (section 617)
•To provide ways whereby plans and related matters may be prepared and adopted to achieve the orderly, economical and beneficial development, use of land and patterns of human settlement, and maintain and improve the quality of the physical environment without infringing on the rights of individuals for any public interest except to the extent that is necessary for the overall greater public interest.

Other Authorizations (Section 619)
•Approvals granted by the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB), Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) shall prevail over any statutory plan, land use bylaw, subdivision decision or development decision by a subdivision authority, development authority, subdivision and development appeal board, or the Municipal Government Board or any authorization under Part 17.
•If a municipality receives an application for a statutory plan amendment, land use bylaw amendment, subdivision approval, development permit, and a license, permit, approval or other authorization by the NRCB, ERCB, or AUC affects this application, the application received by the municipality must be approved to the extent that is complies with the license, permit, approval or other authorization by the NRCB, ERCB, or AUC.

Intermunicipal development plan (Section 631)
•Two or more municipalities may adopt an inter-municipal plan to address issue of mutual concern with respect to designated lands. The plan may provide for the future use of land, manner and proposals for development or other matters relating to the area the councils consider necessary. The plan must include a procedure to resolve or attempt to resolve conflicts, a procedure to amend or repeal the plan and provisions relating to plan administration.

Municipal Development Plans (Section 632)
•A council of a municipality with a population of 3500 or more must by bylaw adopt a municipal development plan (MDP). If the population is less than 3500, there is the option of adopting one. A MDP must address: future land use within the municipality; manner of and the proposals for future development, co-ordination of land use; future growth patterns and other infrastructure with adjacent municipalities if there is no intermunicipal development plan; provision of transportation systems either generally or specifically within the municipality and in relation to adjacent municipalities; and the provision of municipal services and facilities either generally or specifically. As well as: contain policies compatible with the subdivision and development regulations in relation to the type and location of land uses adjacent to sour gas facilities; policies respecting the provision of municipal, school or municipal and school reserves, including but not limited to the need for, amount of and allocation of those reserves and the identification of school requirements in consultation with affected school authorities; and contain policies respecting the protection of agricultural operations.
•A MDP may address: proposals for the financing and programming of municipal infrastructure; co-ordination of municipal programs relating to the physical, social and economic development of the municipality; their financial resources; the economic development of the municipality; any other matter relating to the physical, social, or economic development of the municipality; and statements regarding development constraints.

Land Use (Sections 639 to 640)
•Every municipality must pass a land use bylaw. In preparing a land use bylaw, a municipality must consider the protection of agricultural operations. A land use bylaw may prohibit or regulate and control the use and development of land and buildings in a municipality.
•A land use bylaw must: divide the municipality into districts of the number and area the council considers appropriate; must, unless the district is a direct control district, prescribe with respect to each district, one or more uses of land or buildings that are permitted in the district, with or without conditions; one or more uses of land or buildings that may be permitted in the district at the discretion of the development authority, with or without conditions; establish a method of making decisions on applications for development permits and issuing development permits; must provide how and to whom notice of the issuance of a development permit is to be given; must establish the number of dwelling units permitted on a parcel of land.
•There are a variety of other issues that a land use bylaw may contain and these are outlined in sub-sections 640(4) to (6).

General Comments
•Other than those exceptions noted in the MGA, all land use planning and development decisions rest with the municipality.
•Municipalities may develop intermunicipal agreements either formally through intermunicipal development plans or through servicing agreements, under the existing legislation.

•"First-parcel outs" (first subdivision from an un-subdivided quarter section) were part of the old Planning Acts; however, this requirement is no longer in the MGA. Whether "first parcels out" are allowed is noted in the municipality's land use bylaw.
•Regional planning commissions were dissolved in 1994/95 when the Planning Act was incorporated into the MGA.

NOTE: Special conditions may apply in specific cases. Therefore, the information contained in this discussion paper needs to be put into context of the specific circumstances of the situation in relation to other sections of the MGA, other Acts or other regulations.

Prepared by:
Alberta Municipal Affairs

Focus Papers - Workshop #6

22. Paid Off Farm Employment Data for East Central Alberta

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - January 2009.

Prepared for the COT by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD)

22.1 Summary of off farm employment data for East Central Alberta

•Approximately 54 percent of farm operators in the East Central region are earning some form of off-farm income. Within the three individual counties, Beaver County has the greatest percentage of operators working off-farm (55%), followed by Camrose County (54%) and Flagstaff County (51%).

•All three counties are similar in terms of percentages of operators who work more than 40 hours per week off-farm. However, 17% of operators in Flagstaff work between 20 and 40 hours (off farm) per week, while in Beaver and Camrose Counties these figures are slightly higher at 22% and 23% respectively. In the less than 20 hours per week of off farm income category, Flagstaff County is the highest at 12%, followed by Camrose County (10%) and finally Beaver County (8%).

Table 1. Summary of off farm employment data for East Central Alberta

Total Number of Operators Number of Operators by Average Number of Hours Worked in Agricultural Operations Number of Operators by Average Number of Hours Worked in Off-farm Operations
less than 20 hrs/week 20 - 40 hrs/week more than 40 hrs/week No off-farm income less than 20 hrs/week 20 - 40 hrs/week more than 40 hrs/week
Beaver County 1140 310 (27%) 340 (30%) 495
280 (25%)
Camrose County 1685 440
Flagstaff County 1110 260
Total East Central 3935 1010 (26%) 1155 (29%)
1780 (45%)

*Data taken from 2006 Census of Agriculture (Statistics Canada)
** Percentages indicate number of workers per category over total number of operators (for each individual county e.g. 27% of operators within Beaver County work less than 20 hours/week in agricultural operations)

22.2 Comparison of average farm size and off farm income for East Central Alberta

•For the purposes of analysis, there are not enough data points to accurately determine whether there is a significant correlation between average farm size (acres) and off-farm income. Furthermore, an apparent correlation between variables does not necessarily mean that one variable "causes" a trend in the other. For example, although it may appear that a county with a greater average farm size (acreage) has less off-farm income, one should not conclude that larger average farm size "causes" an increase in off-farm income for that particular county.

•The following comparison table does appear to show an inverse relationship between the two variables. That is, the county with the largest average farm size by acres (Flagstaff) does have the lowest percentage of operators working off-farm. Beaver County shows the inverse of this relationship, with the smallest average farm size by acres and the highest percentage of operators earning off-farm income. Care must be taken not to draw broad conclusions, however, since there aren't even data points for a statistical analysis.

•Although the average farm size does vary quite largely between the counties, the percentages of operators earning some off farm income lie within a relatively tight range (about 51 to 55 percent). Also, without further research, it is difficult to identify and understand the multitude of variables contributing to this scenario (i.e. topography, demographics, and history).

Table 2. Comparison of average farm size and off farm income for East Central Alberta

County Avg. Farm Size % of Operators Earning Some Off Farm Income
Beaver 872 55.3
Camrose 726 54.3
Flagstaff 1275 51.4

23. Biodiversity Basics and Perspectives

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - January 2009.

23.1 Biodiversity Basics factsheet series

•The Biodiversity Basics factsheet series has been published by the Interdepartmental Biodiversity Working Group to help stimulate and inform the dialogue on biodiversity with Albertans.

•This group, created in 2004, is composed of members from eight Alberta Government departments with land-related responsibilities and influences.

•The first factsheet, Characteristics and Values, outlines what biodiversity is and why it is important, with Alberta examples.

•The second one, Challenges and Issues, discusses such issues as the impacts of Alberta's rapid growth and development on biodiversity, and the challenges in addressing these issues.

•Actions and Opportunities, the third factsheet, describes examples of actions that individuals, landowners, community groups, businesses and other organizations are already taking to help maintain Alberta's biodiversity.

•Factsheet series available online at:

23.2 Biodiversity Perspectives

•A companion publication to the Biodiversity Basics factsheets is Biodiversity Perspectives, which can be downloaded from

•Biodiversity Perspectives provide the reader with information on some of the initiatives to conserve biodiversity that are being undertaken in Alberta.

23.3 Biodiversity Conservation Guide for Farmers and Ranchers in Alberta

•"Agricultural producers care deeply for the land on which they live and from which they make their living. For many producers, caring for the land includes a special interest in wildlife and natural areas on their property. This guide's objectives are to: help you to learn more about the benefits that biological diversity provides to your farm or ranch; and help you identify what you're already doing and what else you can do to conserve biodiversity.

•The guide begins by defining biodiversity and explaining its importance to agricultural producers and to our world. In the next section, the guide explains six basic principles of biodiversity conservation and, for each principle, lists supporting actions. These general principles and actions can be adapted to suit your own situation. If you farm or ranch in ways that are guided by these six principles, then you likely already know a great deal about your land and its ecological characteristics - about how living things interact with and respond to each other and their physical environment.

•The guide concludes with information to help you take action to conserve biodiversity. It outlines the steps in developing and implementing a biodiversity conservation plan. And it lists agencies that provide financial/technical assistance to Alberta farmers and ranchers for biodiversity conservation."


Alberta Agriculture and Food. 2007. Biodiversity Conservation Guide for Farmers and Ranchers in Alberta. Other contributors: Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Program. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration. Ducks Unlimited Canada

Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture (AESA) Council. Sowing the Seeds for an Alberta Biodiversity Strategy. Green Matters. Issue 28, Summer 2006.$department/newslett.nsf/pdf/gm10035/$file/summer2006.pdf?OpenElement


"Biodiversity Basics" factsheets provided by Sustainable Resource Development.

"Biodiversity Conservation Guide for Farmers and Ranchers in Alberta" provided by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

Focus Papers - Workshop #7 (February 2009)
There were no papers requested or prepared for this workshop

Focus Papers - Workshop #8 (March 2009)
24. Alternatives and Renewable Energy Information for East Central Alberta
The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - March 2009.

Prepared by Alberta Energy for the October 2008 and updated for the March 2009 workshop.

Land Use Framework no longer has an East Central Alberta region. While most of this information is of a general nature, regional specifics may be considered applicable to the North Saskatchewan Region.

24.1 Introduction

The Energy Economy is evolving and although it will likely remain primarily fossil fuels-based for the foreseeable future, it is set to diversify in a number of areas. The growth and immediate investment in renewable products will be significant in the near term, and may command ten, fifteen or twenty percent of total energy supply in the future. Increasing energy demand will drive expansion of all forms renewable and non-renewable alike.

Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact energy development is having on the environment and are actively questioning the sustainability of the future impending growth. The traditional energy sector is being pulled by these two competing drivers as depicted below.

Traditional Energy Sector
Low Consumer Cost, Higher Carbon
Alternative Energy Sector
High Cost, Low Emission, Lower Carbon
Conventional Oil
Natural Gas / LNG
Synthetic Crude
Coal Bed Methane
Shale Gas
New technology reduces emissions New technology reduces costs
Global in scale and infrastructure Local in scale and infrastructure

The energy sector is rapidly changing to accommodate the evolving marketplace. In certain parts of Canada and Alberta, the renewable energy sector has lagged behind other jurisdictions, as the market has treated renewable and non-renewable energy sources on an equal footing. The key driver of "low cost" was paramount in both the domestic market as well as in key export markets. Issues such as carbon foot print and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were simply externalities to the pricing of energy, meaning that the environmental cost was not internalized in the price of the commodity.

In Alberta, traditional fossil fuel products have been best positioned to provide a low-cost supply. However, this is rapidly changing as other jurisdictions are now increasingly diversified in their energy portfolios and challenging the "carbon conscience" market. Environmental considerations are rapidly becoming part of the value proposition in addition to the functionality and cost of energy. This is clearly reflected in the emergence of the "low carbon standards" being introduced and adoption of life cycle analysis applications being considered.

The North American marketplace is no longer about simply meeting the energy requirements of its citizens at the lowest cost. The energy products are being scrutinized for environmental impact, sustainability as well as economic benefit and ultimately "all in cost" cost.

Recent data from the Carbon Disclosure Project #5 (CDP5), which surveys the world's 500 largest publicly traded corporations, identified the following key drivers for this growth in the renewable energy sector as a response to carbon monitoring:

• Rising global energy costs which, at the margin, make renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions more economically attractive
• Increasing consumer demand for sustainable energy
• The "enabling" role that clean technologies play in helping corporations meet tightening environmental regulatory requirements in areas such as emissions of pollutants and GHG's waste management etc.
• The capacity of renewable energy and energy efficiency to provide "energy security" by providing alternative energy solutions and by reducing demand
• The increasing stakeholder value placed on renewable energy purchasing from brand value and social responsibility perspective

This paper outlines some renewable energy sources and technologies, and provides a sense of the potential for each of these in East Central Alberta.

24.2 Wind Power (See Appendix 1 for Alberta's wind policies and programs)

Wind power is the conversion of kinetic wind energy into useful energy form (e.g. electricity) using equipment such as turbines. Most wind power is converted into electricity. Large scale wind farms are connected to electrical grids, or individual turbines can provide electricity to isolated locations.

There are two ways to utilize wind power:
• Large Scale: wind farms are examples of large scale wind facilities, generally connected to the grid. Detailed work is currently being done to assess control strategies and address reliability concerns associated with large-scale integration of wind resources. Such research and creative solutions will be investigated further to determine if they can be implemented in Alberta.
• Small Scale: small wind generation systems are usually used to power individual homes, farms, and small businesses. Isolated communities that otherwise rely on diesel generators may use wind turbines to reduce diesel fuel consumption, reduce or eliminate their electricity bills, or to generate their own clean power. Wind turbines have been used for household electricity generation in conjunction with battery storage over many decades in some areas, but with a high cost involved. Microgeneration policy helps in reducing costs by improving the payback period of the system.

The advantages of wind electricity power are:
• The energy source is free;
• Wind energy is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and reduces GHG when it displaces fossil-fuel-derived electricity; and
• Hugh opportunities for development in rural and semi urban areas.

The disadvantages of wind electricity power are:
• The intermittency of wind: The variability and non-dispatchable nature of wind presents challenges to system operators and the electricity market. With respect to system reliability, wind is an interruptible source of generation - if the wind is not blowing there is no power and when wind exceeds a certain threshold, reliability concerns may arise for the system operator. The challenges include control strategies, interconnection standards, volume/forecasting and potential system reliability impacts (e.g. reliability unit commitment uncertainty and increased need for additional capacity and/or operating reserves).
• Current technology is unable to provide an economically viable electricity storage system that can be used in tandem with wind power. Past a certain threshold, this may require the region in which wind power is developed to have either sufficient conventional generation to compensate for the loss of the wind power, or sufficient transmission capacity to import power from other regions (e.g. inter-ties).
• Noise level; and
• The limitation using it in urban areas.

Potential for East Central Alberta:

As a non-polluting and renewable resource, wind power is desirable from a public policy standpoint, but it does present certain operational and reliability challenges not associated with other generation technologies. Alberta's philosophy of not allocating a fuel source preference allows competitive market forces to determine the appropriate generation mix. The main constraint for the massive use of wind power in Alberta's rural and semi-urban Alberta areas is that of economics. The future of this technology is related with the cost reduction and the increase in the price of electricity and fossil fuels.
• Large Scale facilities: receive economic government support and they become competitive with classical electricity generation technologies. Southern Alberta currently houses most of these facilities.
• Small Scale facilities: these are starting to become economically competitive, and could be viable in the East Central Alberta region. It is expected that there will be a high increase in applications supported by microgeneration policy.

East Central Alberta has a huge potential applying these technologies in all ranges - both small and large scale - starting today and continuing for the next several decades.

24.3 Solar Power

Sunlight is a very important form of energy. Energy flows from the sun to the earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation. At any time, the amount of solar energy available on the earth's surface depends mainly on how high the sun is in the sky and cloud conditions. Usable solar energy depends on the available solar energy, weather conditions, and technology used.

The efficiency and reliability of solar heating systems have increased dramatically, making them attractive options for the home or business. Solar energy can be used for heating and cooling, electricity production, and chemical processes. The most common application is for space and water heating. Solar systems are now readily available commercially for both industrial and residential use.

The advantages of solar power are:
• the energy from the sun is free;
• the relative independence of fossil fuel prices variation; and
• the saving of GHG emission and the supporting of the provincial energy efficiency;

The disadvantages are:
• The high initial capital cost investment is higher than other renewable source of energy;
• The long payback period in Canada;
• Solar panels require quite a large area for installation to achieve a high level of efficiency;
• The weather conditions, stressed in the Albertan winter; and
• The necessity of batteries for off-grid system.

Potential for East Central Alberta:

The main constraints to the massive use in Alberta of these technologies are economic and the long winter with few light hours, just in the period of more energy requirements. The future of these technologies is related with the cost reduction and the increase in the price of electricity and fossil fuels.

East Central Alberta has the potential applying these solar technologies in a medium and small scale in the next 25-50 years.
• Electricity generation by solar heating is still not a competitive technology in Alberta; very few policies around the world support this technology.
• With current government policies, photo voltaic technology could be competitive in about 15 to 25 years in urban areas and 10 to 20 years in semi urban and rural areas.
• Solar heating/thermal technologies and designing heating systems to use the sun's radiation could be applied today.

24.4 Energy from the Earth (See Appendix 2 for AB's geothermal policies)

There are two types of energy that can be obtained directly from the earth.

• Earth energy:
A few metres of soil on the surface insulate the earth and ground water below. This warmth or earth energy provides a free, renewable source of energy. The earth under the average residential lot can easily provide enough free energy to heat and cool the home built on it. Consumers of earth energy only pay for the installation and the electricity to run a heat pump system. Earth energy is considered low-grade heat in that it is not warm enough to heat a building without being concentrated or upgraded, but there is a large amount of potential energy.

• Geothermal energy:
Steam or hot water can be captured from deeper in the earth and used to power turbines or to heat buildings and water. The earth has a natural heat gradient that varies with location and is usually measured by determining the bottom-hole temperature after the drilling of a deep well or borehole. The most economical and accessible geothermal heating is located in regions where there are hot springs or geysers associated with tectonically active regions (mountainous regions, volcanoes in Hawaii and Iceland).

Geothermal (GT) systems can be classified in:
• Hot Dry Rock - very high temperature rocks, but it has not yet been found in Canada;
• Dry Steam Resources - steam contained under pressure, but it has not yet been found in Canada;
• Hot Water Resources - Water above 180° C, and in the surface, the water to evaporate into steam;
• Warm Water Resources - Warm water reservoirs from 50° C to 180° C, it found in the WCSB;
• Low Temperature Resources - At shallow depth reservoir with water between 10 and 50°C.

Deep geothermal aquifers in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin may be a new form of abundant and cheap energy, and may be warm enough to power geothermal heat pumps and heat exchangers to produce electricity. These aquifers might be accessible through old oil and gas infrastructure with appropriate regulatory approvals and approval to access the Alberta grid. Alberta Environment has developed a policy for approvals of the use of the thermal properties of groundwater in the expectation that with the improvements of geothermal technology, groundwater will be more frequently used for conventional heating and cooling in the future.

This heat exchange between the ground and the building is accomplished by using standard pump and compressor technology. The advantages of this technology include:
• It use a new kind of technology available wherever and forever;
• It use the same installation for heating and cooling;
• It is an alternative and sure source of energy in rural and semi rural areas;
• It involves no combustion, so it is cleaner and safer to handle than either oil/gas/coal; and

Some disadvantages include:
• It increases the use of electricity;
• The energy cost savings will depend on the relative price of electricity compared to gas/oil/coal relative price;
• High capital cost, but federal grant is available stimulating the use of this technology.

Potential for East Central Alberta:

Geo-thermal for electricity generation will not likely be economically viable in East Central Alberta (ECA) region for at least the next 3 decades. To develop geothermal in hot water resources requires a huge capital cost. Similar conditions apply for warm water resources; however, the development of this technology associated with oil and gas industry shows a potential and viable use which will increase in the future, as the petroleum industry produces large quantities of warm water.

Geothermal for housing (known as geothermal heat pump systems and using low-temperature resources) could be used like an alternative to traditional oil/gas/coal-fired heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The operation principle is to take advantage of the ground's heating and cooling properties to heat or cool entire buildings.

The global advantages of using this technology are evident, which is confirmed by the 40% increase in installation applications every year across Canada. Rural and semirural areas have more benefits from using this technology due to the energy source's availability, security and stability and in using it for housing and farm heating/cooling. In this context, the ECA region has a strong potential in the use and development of this technology.

24.5 Overview of Bio-based Fuels (See Appendix 3 for AB's bio-energy programs)

• Bio-based fuels and energy include biodiesel, ethanol, biogas and combined heat and power generation from biomass.
• The feedstock materials available for the development of biofuels include forestry biomass, cereal grains, oilseeds, forages, livestock processing by-product streams and municipal waste. The vast majority of bioenergy in Alberta is produced from either waste or forestry biomass. This trend is expected to continue with future growth and adoption of emerging technologies, such as gasification of municipal solid waste or ethanol from woody biomass.
• Bioenergy development should be viewed as the initial stage of an integrated biorefinery approach to economic development. It has the potential to leverage primary biomass production and processing activities to increase our competitive position, as well as significantly reduce the environmental footprint throughout the chain.
• Western Canada has the productive capacity to meet the projected bioenergy grain feed stock requirements, while continuing to increase available exports or feed use to traditional grain markets through adoption of higher yielding varieties.
• Supporting alternative off-grid energy solutions will strengthen regional development and collaboration to address local needs
• Alberta currently produces 40 million litres of ethanol by Red Deer. Two 20 million litre biodiesel plants are near completion in Southern Alberta.
• A number of biogas plants are operating with the largest plant being near Vegreville, which produces about one mega watt of power from feedlot manure.

24.5.1 Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a renewable and sustainable alternative fuel that is manufactured from vegetable oils, recycled cooking greases or oils, or animal fats. Biodiesel is readily available as an alternative fuel in Europe and is emerging as an opportunity in North America.

Biodiesel does not require any engine modifications for use. It can also be blended with petroleum diesel at various levels (B5 or B20, 5% and 20% biodiesel respectively) or used as pure fuels (B100). The Engine Manufacturers Association has stated that blends up to B5 will not cause engine or fuel system problems provided the biodiesel meets quality standards. Recently John Deere announced plans to use B2 as the preferred factory-fill in all their diesel powered equipment and New Holland became the first original equipment manufacturer to announce full support of B20 in their diesel equipment.

Benefits of Biodiesel:
• Demonstrated to be safer to handle and less toxic than petroleum diesel.
• Reduces a variety of diesel exhaust pollutants that are toxic or carcinogenic (sulphur dioxide (SO2), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and particulate matter (PM).
• Mitigate greenhouse gases emissions (CO2).
• Produce significant measurable carbon credits that may be traded in the emerging carbon credit marketplace.
• Can be blended with petroleum diesel at varying concentrations without any engine modifications.
• Produce non-offensive odours during combustion.
• Reduce engine wear through lubricity attributes.
• Demonstrated to function adequately during fleet trials in Canadian climates (Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax).
• Can be blended with petroleum diesel using existing injection blending methodology.
• Has a much higher energy balance than petroleum diesel fuel.
• Biodiesel specification and standardization endorsed to ensure biodiesel fuel quality and performance.
• Provincially exempt from road taxes in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba.

Challenges of Biodiesel:
• Biodiesel has slightly lower energy content compared to petroleum diesel on a volumetric basis. Energy content differences are noticeable at B100 levels. However, differences in energy content and performance are diminished at lower blended levels (at B20, similar torque, fuel economy and horsepower to petroleum diesel). Biodiesel energy content varies with the source of feedstock.
• Usage of biodiesel blends above B20 is not supported by some commercial engine manufacturers' warranties. All major Original Equipment Manufacturers support the use of blends up to B5.
• Both Petrodiesel and biodiesel can freeze or gel as temperature drops. No difference in gelling is seen with low volume blends (B5).
• Biodiesel has a shorter shelf life than diesel fuel. However, this life can be extended by adding storage-enhancing additives. All diesel fuels, including petroleum-based, are recommended to be used before a six-month period.

24.5.2 Ethanol

Fuel ethanol is a high-octane, oxygenated fuel component manufactured primarily through the fermentation of sugar. The sugar is usually derived from sugar production crops, the hydrolysis of starch from grains, or through the hydrolysis of linocellulosic materials such as straw, grass and wood. In North America, fuel ethanol is currently produced mostly from starch containing crops such as corn, wheat and milo. The next generation of ethanol production technology is the conversion of lignocellulosic materials, such as wheat straw to ethanol.

Ethanol has been used as a motor fuel in North America since the early 1900s. Ethanol gas blends were used in parts of the United States prior to the Second World War but through the 1950s and 1960s there was no ethanol used in gasoline in North America. In 1979, the US Congress established the federal ethanol program to stimulate the rural economy and reduce the dependence on imported oil. The production and use of ethanol as a motor fuel in the United States and in Canada has increased continuously since the time.

There are now over ten billion litres of ethanol used in gasoline in the United States and Canada each year. This represents about 1.8 % of the gasoline volume or 1.2 % of the energy in the gasoline pool. Most ethanol is used in low-level blends of 5-10 % ethanol in gasoline with 0.25 % of ethanol used in E85.

Total motor gasoline sales in Canada in 2002 were about 39 billion litres. Around 250 million litres of fuel ethanol were blended into gasoline, which means that about 7 % of the gasoline pool contained a low level of ethanol.

The ethanol portion of ethanol blends in Canada varies between 5% to 10%. Ethanol blends are sold in Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec at about 1000 retail outlets. Ontario accounted for more than 75% of Canada's fuel ethanol consumption in 2002.

Benefits of Ethanol
• Increased use of ethanol-blended fuel has a number of other advantages and provides new opportunities.
• It would help reduce Canadian imports of foreign oil and the achievement of national sustainable development objectives.
• It could create new trade opportunities, value-added co-products from biomass conversion, and exportable technologies if the lignocellulose process proves to be economically viable.

Technical Barriers
• The technical issues pertaining to increased fuel ethanol production and use relate to water miscibility and vapour pressure. Ethanol, unlike gasoline, is attracted to water and can separate from the gasoline blend if there is water in the pipeline distribution and storage systems, as is usually the case.
• Marketers therefore avoid using pipelines to transport ethanol/gasoline-blended fuel and take the more expensive route of blending ethanol in gasoline at distribution terminals.

24.5.3 Biogas Methane

Biogas is "renewable natural gas" containing approximately 70% methane (CH4) and roughly 30% carbon dioxide and trace amounts of other gases. Potential agricultural feedstocks for biogas production include manure (hog, dairy, beef and poultry), food processing (byproducts of meat processing, potato, dairy, cheese whey, sugar beet, pea hulls, and vegetables); and energy crops cut as silage (wheat, barley, triticale, clover, alfalfa, ryegrass, turnips and corn).

Anaerobic biodigestors can be either wet fermentation or dry fermentation. Wet biodigestors must be cleaned out every 1 to 3 years with a life expectance of the digestor being approximately 10 years. Dry biodigestors do not have to be cleaned out as often and have a life expectance of approximately 20 years.

Capital cost for a biogas facility that produces one (1) megawatt of power would be in the $4 to $6 Million range depending on the level of infrastructure at the site. Liquid systems that are already set up for collection and handling, may require intermediary processing and holding before entering the digester. Solid systems will have to develop the infrastructure to increase manure collecting and handling to feed the digester - manure collection frequency will have to increase to at least 4 times a year to feed the digester with relatively 'fresh' material.

The availability of turnkey technology, expected to develop in the future, will help reduce the capital costs.

Benefits of Biogas
• Methane yields from agriculture feedstocks are in the 50% to 70% range. Manure has the lowest yield with energy crops, and food processing has the highest yields. Much potential exists to blend feedstocks to achieve desirable methane yields and solve environmental issues at the same time.
• Commercial products from biogas production include methane, electricity, heat, steam, fertilizer, chemical recovery, odour reduction, water recycling, CO2 and potentially carbon credits and greenhouse gas credits.

Challenges of Biogas
•Deciding to market the electricity, renewable natural gas directly, or combined heat and power depend on the location of the end users and the cost of meeting market standards:
•The capital cost of linking to the electricity grid (cogeneration units, metering etc.) varies from $60,000 to $350,000, depending on the scale of the project;
•Upgrading the biogas to meet the gas quality requirements of low pressure natural gas gathering pipelines will require capital costs in the range of $4 to $5 Million per MW of output to remove the CO2; finding opportunities to use existing fossil-fuel based upgrading systems for other types of natural gas sources will greatly reduce these costs;
•Using the heat and power on site or at nearby facilities, be they agricultural or other types of operations, is cost effective; excess power/gas/heat can be sold on the market;

24.5.4 Bio-energy: Potential for East Central Alberta:

East-Central Alberta has a high potential to increase their bioenergy supply and become competitive in bioenergy products.

The advantages of this area of the province include:
•Access to rail
•Production of canola and other crops
•Intensive hog operations for biomethane
•City of Edmonton Waste Management Centre (currently 5 MW)
•Large landfill in the Ryley area (potential for biogas from the landfill)
•Iron Creek Biogas potential of 5-10 MW (currently 0.5 MW)
•Highmark Renewables/Growing Power Hairy Hill Biorefinery near Vegreville (currently 1 MW)

•The capital costs for a biodiesel plant are relatively modest compared to conventional ethanol biofuel plants.
•Capital costs are directly influenced by feedstock considerations as feedstocks account for about two-thirds of total production costs.
•Important considerations in feedstock selection include price, variability in quality and chemical content, availability, flexibility to increase supply and cost of transport and pre-treatment.

•An estimated ethanol production capacity of 100-200 Million Litres, which would require about 600,000 tonnes of wheat.
•Note that ethanol blends sell for the same price as gasoline in central Canada. A small premium for blended fuel is charged in the west.
•Vehicles built in the last 20 years can use these low-level blends of ethanol and gasoline interchangeably with gasoline without modification.

•There is excellent potential for biogas production in the ECA area.
•To realize a 100 kW to 5MW size biogas facility, running on manure only, the following sizes of confined feeding operations would be needed:

Size of Operation (MWe) 0.1 0.3 0.5 1.5 5
Animal Requirement (head)
Beef Feeder 2186 6,558 10,930 32,791 109,302
Beef Finisher 1053 3,158 5,263 15,790 52,633
Dairy Cows 421 1,264 2,107 6,322 21,072
Hog Farrow to Finisher 3445 10,336 17,226 51,678 172,261
Hog Farrow to Wean 364 1,091 1,818 5,453 18,176
Layers 9541 28,624 47,707 143,120 477,066
Broilers 37431 112294 187,157 561,470 1,871,568

Source: Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website

To ensure a consistent supply of renewable natural gas/electricity, to the electrical grid or natural gas pipelines, a recommended number of biodigestor units at each site would be two to three.

Appendix 1: Wind - Alberta's Policy and Programs

The information below describes how the province is currently supporting infrastructure for installation of wind farms:
• Development of generation in the province is governed by competitive market forces. Private investors decide what type of generation to build as well as where and when that generation will be built.
• Based on existing government policy, there is no preference for a specific generation technology or fuel type for generators.
• Currently the Government of Alberta does not offer any incentives for development of wind generation.
• However, in order to facilitate the development of more wind generation, Alberta will also be adopting and implementing a policy to build interties to other markets. Power can be imported when the wind isn't blowing and excess electricity can be exported when the wind is howling.
• The Government of Canada, through ecoENERGY for Renewable Power, will provide an incentive of one cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for up to 10 years to wind generation projects constructed during the period April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2011.
• In accordance with the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation, a "Quantification Protocol for Wind Powered Electricity Generation" has been approved by Alberta Environment. This protocol enables wind generators to receive a credit of 0.65 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) offset for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity produced to the Alberta electricity system, reduced by any GHG emissions that occur as a result of the production of the wind energy.
• Wind generators will be able to sell this offset to Alberta GHG emitters who require offsets to reduce their total GHG emissions. Currently it is expected that these offsets will sell for $15 per tonne or approximately $10 per MWh (one cent per kWh).
• The protocol is designed to avoid the possibility of wind generators "double counting" environmental benefits.
• The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) currently maintains a queue of over 9,000 MW of proposed wind generation projects. Projects totalling 7,500 MW are proposed to be built in southern Alberta.
• The AESO is responsible for the planning of the transmission system in the province and is mandated to plan for sufficient transmission capacity to accommodate wind generation.
• The AESO is recommending a series of immediate local transmission upgrades to provide reliable supply to load customers, as well as providing a larger plan for consideration to meet the needs of wind generation.
• Specifically, the AESO proposes to strengthen the southeast transmission system to meet the immediate load requirements, provide access for 141MW of wind generation and restore the capability of the inter-tie with Saskatchewan. These system upgrades are expected to be in service in 2009-2010.
• To accommodate the large demand for wind farm interconnections, the AESO is pursuing an integrated transmission plan for all of southern Alberta. All the alternatives presented in this plan will be able to support up to 4,000 MW of wind generation.

Appendix 2: Geo-thermal - Alberta's Policies

Closed-loop systems: Approvals will not be required for the use of closed-loop or "ground" heat pump configurations at this time.

Open-loop systems: An open-loop system uses the thermal properties of groundwater by circulating groundwater through a system of pipes whereby water is pumped from a well, moved through a heat transfer system, and then returned via another well. While there is no loss of water as part of the system, the system is considered an "activity" under the Water Act and requires an approval from Alberta Environment.

The government must evaluate the legal and regulatory regimes from other jurisdictions and adopt an appropriate regime to handle issues of tenure, rent, and regulatory approval for future geothermal projects in Alberta. The use of shallow earth energy for heating and cooling purposes in buildings will be expected to comply with the Alberta Building Code requirements.

Appendix 3: Biofuels - Alberta's Policies and Programs

The Government of Alberta released the Nine-Point Bioenergy Strategy in October of 2006, which was created by a cross ministry team consisting of Energy, Agriculture and Food, Environment, Economic Development, Sustainable Resource Development and Finance.

Nine-Point Plan Objectives:
• recognition of Alberta as an integrated quality supplier of choice in a diversified, distributed energy production system, utilizing sustainable biomass energy and biorefining technologies;
• manufacturing and use of bioenergy products, leading to emission reductions that mitigate land and water impacts, such as biosolids, livestock and meat processing waste, septage, municipal solid waste or industrial sludge; and
• achievement of potential rural, economic and environmental sustainability targets through adoption of global biorefining technology applications and innovation.

The Nine-Point Plan committed $239 million over five years to aid in the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry. Programs in place through the plan are:
• Bioenergy Infrastructure Development Program: to develop, expand and strengthen Alberta's biodiesel, biogas (methane), ethanol and other new generation fuel production capacity in response to market demands;
• Biorefining Commercialization and Market Development Program: to assist with the development and expansion of the distribution infrastructure of biofuel and energy transmission in Alberta; and
• Renewable Energy Producer Credit Program: to sustain and support development and expansion of Alberta's bioenergy sector over the next four years, and to increase low-impact contributions to and diversity of Alberta's fuel supply.

Since the strategy was announced, about $500 million in new private sector investment has been committed to bioenergy projects that have received grant funding.

Applications for bioenergy grant funding are still being accepted. Applications and guidelines are available on the Alberta Energy web site at

25. The European Union and Alternative Energy Policies

•March 2007: European leaders agree to a binding EU-wide target to source 20% of their energy needs from renewables such as biomass, hydro, wind and solar power by 2020.

•January 2008, the Commission put forward differentiated targets for each EU member state, based on the per capita GDP of each country.

Current Situation
•To reach their national targets, member states will be permitted to import 'physical' renewable energy from third-country sources such as large solar farms in North Africa or hydro power from Norway.

•EU countries will also be able to sell their excess renewables credits if they overshoot their national targets between themselves, helping underperforming states meet their obligations.
•To achieve these objectives, the summit endorsed an action plan to be implemented between 2007 and 2009. The plan's main elements include:

  • completing the internal market for electricity and gas
  • a binding target to raise the EU's share of renewables to 20% by 2020
  • an obligation for each member state to have 10% biofuels in their transport fuel mix by 2020
  • boosting energy efficiency with a target to save 20% of the EU's total primary energy consumption by 2020. New initiatives here include proposals for an international agreement on energy-efficiency standards for consumer appliances
  • aiming towards "a low CO2 fossil fuel future" with support for 'clean coal' technology, using carbon capture and storage deep underground
  • developing a common external energy policy to "actively pursue Europe's interests" on the international scene with major supplier, consumer and transit countries, including Russia
  • developing a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan to focus R&D efforts on low carbon technologies
  • on nuclear, the Commission chose to take an "agnostic" stance, leaving it up to member states to decide.


Examples of different targets:

Member State % Share of Renewables in 2005 % Share Required by 2020
Austria 23.3 34
Belgium 2.2 13
Denmark 27 30
Finland 28.5 38
France 10.3 23
Germany 5.8 18
The Netherlands 2.4 14
Poland 7.2 15
Spain 8.7 20
Sweden 38.8 49
United Kingdom 1.3 15

Interim targets
The Commission also proposes a series of interim targets, in order to ensure steady progress towards the 2020 targets.
•25% average between 2011 and 2012
•35% average between 2013 and 2014
•45% average between 2015 and 2016
•65% average between 2017 and 2018.
EU countries are free to decide their preferred 'mix' of renewables in order to take account of their different potentials, but must present national action plans (NAPs) based on an 'indicative trajectory' to the Commission by 30 June 2010, followed by progress reports submitted every two years. The plans will need to be defined along three sectors: electricity, heating and cooling, and transport.
•Oil-rich Norway is seeking to diversify its energy offer and swamp EU consumers with green electricity produced by large-scale offshore wind farms.

•According to wind mapping studies, the Nordic state ranks second only to Portugal in terms of offshore wind potential.

•The country already covers 60% of its overall needs with renewable energy



•Wind, biomass, water, solar and geothermal energies will together represent a 47% share of Germany's total electricity consumption by 2020, according to the country's renewable energy agency.
•The industry says renewables can provide a secure power source even at times of peak demand.
•Developing green electricity will have a wider positive impact on the economy. Some 214,000 people are now employed in the renewable energy sector.
•The Federal government has provided the impetus for this development, particularly by regulating the payment for electricity from renewable energy fed into the grid through the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), and through other support programs such as the market incentive program for renewable energy (MAP). As a result of these incentives, renewable energy technologies in Germany have become an important industrial sector with high annual growth rates in the last few years.

•Many innovative German companies have advanced to become international technological leaders, providing key components for the wind energy, hydropower, solar energy, geothermic and biomass sectors. The Federal Ministry of Economics is supporting this dynamic industry with a multitude of instruments


Prepared by:
Abells Henry Public Affairs

26. Community Resilience
The core components of community from the perspective of resilience are:
1. people in the community
2. organizations in the community
3. resources in the community
4. community process
The first 3 components describe the nature and variety of resources available to a community for development.
The fourth component describes the approaches and structures available to a community for organizing and using these resources in a productive way.
People in your community
• Resilient communities exhibit a sense of pride and openness to new ideas and alternatives
• They value education and demonstrate awareness of the economic impact of social issues.
• Their leadership base is diversified and works to involve and mobilize the public around a common vision.
• The people in resilient communities have a "can do" attitude that is visible in their proactive response to change.
Organizations in your community
• Resilient communities work to ensure they have sufficient organizational capacity or influence within community economic development to provide the leadership and resources necessary to get things done
- e.g., access to credit, human resource development, research, planning and advocacy
• Social and economic development organizations in resilient communities work to inform and engage the public and demonstrate high levels of collaboration with each other.
Resources in your community
• Resilient communities are aware of and build on their local resource strengths while also seeking appropriate external resources to achieve their goals.
• They take steps to reduce their dependency on outside ownership and spend their money with a view to the long-term future of the community.
Community process
• Resilient communities take time to research, analyze and plan for their future.
• The plan becomes integrated into the work of those organizations involved in community economic development and contains strategies that merge social and economic issues and solutions.
• Resilient communities have a widely shared vision for their future, involve key sectors in the implementation of the goals, and measure results on a regular basis.

A model for Community Resilience
Since 1998, with the assistance of a number of funding agencies and other contributors, the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal has been exploring the concept of community resilience. At issue is the economic and social vitality of rural communities across Canada and the United States. Many have deteriorated in the past decade due to drastic changes in mining, the forest industry, agriculture, and fisheries.
Yet others have prospered. They have taken steps that have enabled them to survive crisis, influence change, and become healthy, vital places for their citizens. What must we learn from their success?
On the basis of research into proven strategies of socio-economic revitalization, including its own experience as a practitioner of community-based economic development (CED), the Centre developed a model of community resilience. This model expresses in terms of 23 resilience characteristics a community's capacity to shape its own ways of life and work. The Centre also designed and field-tested a process by which small towns could use this model cost-effectively to assess their situation, and focus their economic and social planning accordingly. Finally, we began to compile a "Catalogue" to which communities could refer for proven tools of community renewal, contacts, and additional resources.
In November 1999, the Centre released in draft form The Community Resilience Manual from this site. Over 500 communities, government agencies, researchers, and CED practitioners downloaded the draft in portable document format (PDF) in the subsequent 12 months. Although specifically addressed to the rural communities of British Columbia, the Manual offered valuable assistance to any small community (including some in Australia and New Zealand) that wanted to make better decisions about mobilizing and investing its resources… More:
Prepared by:

Alberta Environment


The Community Resilience Manual: A resource for Rural Recover y and Renewal. Centre for Community Enterprise, Port Alberni, BC, Canada.
The Workbook to The Community Resilience Manual: A resource for Rural Recover y and Renewal. Centre for Community Enterprise, Port Alberni, BC, Canada.

[1] Note: Water usage could be minimized by using grey water or air cooling designs, among other opportunities.

[2] Alberta Energy Research Institute 2008-13 Strategic Business Plan

[3] Insitu means in place.

[4] Alberta Energy Research Institute 2008-13 Strategic Business Plan

[5] Yamashita, K, & L. Barreto. (2005) Energyplexes for the 21st Century: Coal Gasification for Co-producing Hydrogen, Electricity and Liquid Fuels. Energy. 30 (13). Pp. 2453-2473

[6] Until reclamation certification, many operators also still consider the un-certified lands to be a liability and obtaining certification while important in terms of social licence, also gets these lands "off the books" in terms of financial obligation.

[7] A modification of this capability (and its assessment) related to plains mines is often through the "Agricultural Capability Classification for Reclamation", as compared to the CLI system.

27. Water Managment and Allocation Policy