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NEWS: ‘Alberta shouldn’t consider expanding water markets’, says Parkland report

Edmonton-based Council of Canadians organizer Scott Harris writes in his blog this afternoon, “The University of Alberta-based Parkland Institute released today a new report (‘Alternative Water Futures in Alberta’ by Jeremy Schmidt) which says that the expansion of water markets to all of Alberta as part of the provincial government’s review of the provincial water allocation system would have adverse effects on the environment, access to water by a range of users in the province, and First Nations’ communities.”

Harris adds, “Drawing from the experiences of other jurisdictions with water markets, including Australia, Chile and Spain, the report suggests two possible alternative systems instead of markets: approaching water as a public trust or viewing it as a common-pool resource. Either of these approaches, the report argues, would provide Alberta with greater flexibility and options in the future as it grapples with future water challenges.”

Global Edmonton and numerous media outlets are now carrying a Canadian Press report that says, “A report by the Parkland Institute suggests Alberta shouldn’t consider expanding water markets. The public policy researcher says doing so would harm the environment, restrict the public’s access to water and disadvantage First Nations communities. The report says Alberta’s existing water framework is already flawed and it doesn’t make sense to look at the resource only with an economic eye. Jeremy Schmidt, the report’s author, suggests the province needs a more flexible plan that can respond to future uncertainties. He says the one-size-fits-all market approach the government is considering doesn’t fit the bill. The province is preparing to announce its plans for public input on the future of water allocation — consultations that were first promised over two years ago.”

And iNews880.com reports, “As the province gets ready to launch consultations on the future of water in Alberta, a report from the Parkland Institute gives some recommendations. The report says so far the province has considered a market-based approach to allocating water, but author Jeremy Schmidt says it’s more complicated than that. ‘When we talk about water markets, that’s really only one kind of solution to problems that are really of various different types. So what we want to look for in this report are models of water governance that can deal with lots of different types of problems, because that’s the reality in Alberta.’ Schmidt says some of the issues to deal with include protecting the environment, First Nations’ rights, and water quality. The report suggests putting together a framework that can encompass all of these things, rather than buying and selling water like a commodity. You can hear more about his findings tonight at 7:00pm at the U of A’s Telus Building.”

The report was funded in part by the Council of Canadians. And Harris will accompany Schmidt to some of the communities in a 5-city tour on the report organized by the Our Water Is Not For Sale network, of which the Council of Canadians is a founding member.

To see Scott’s blog, read the report, and find out more about the tour, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12514.

For more Council of Canadians blogs on water markets, go to http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22water+markets%22.