Banner photo credit: Alberta Venture



#SAWC17 MEDIA RELEASE – November 8, 2017

The Oldman Watershed Council is excited to announce and invite the public to register for their much anticipated event, The Southern Alberta Water Charter Closing ceremony, on Friday, November 17th from 10:00 - 12:00 (Registration begins at 09:45 am). 

This is a FREE event and all are welcome, but we do ask that you register so that we can better plan for your participation (and lunch!): https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/sawc17-closing-ceremony-tickets-38092511728

Please note there has been a change of venue from the previously advertised location. It is NOT at City Hall in Lethbridge. Due to greater space requirements, we are now holding the event at the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association at 421 - 6 Ave South, Lethbridge. Parking is on the west side of the building.
The agenda is as follows:
09:45am - Registration
10:00am - Shannon Frank, OWC Executive Director: Welcome, Introductions & Greetings (Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman,
Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips <TBA>)
10:05am - SAWC17 Activity (Anna Garleff, OWC Communications Specialist)
please note: comfortable footwear required (MEDIA NOTE: Great Photo Ops here!)
10:35am - Awards & Slideshow of Projects’ Highlights
11:00am - A Few Words - Antoine Gendron (SAWC17 Participant & OWC Board Director)
Jim Saunders (Alberta Real Estate Foundation SAWC17 Sponsor)
11:05am - From 15,000 BCE to 2060 AD Timelapse Maps (Anna Garleff, OWC Communications Specialist)
11:15am - Future Generations: Message to Leaders from Grade 3 / 4 (MEDIA NOTE: More great photos!)
11:25am - Media Scrum, Networking, Refreshments (MEDIA NOTE: Get sound bites about your favourite project here!)
12:00pm - Finish

REGISTER HERE (It's FREE!): https://sawc17owc.eventbrite.ca

special thank-you to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation for supporting #SAWC17!

We put Southern Alberta leaders to the test this summer with the Southern Alberta Water Charter. From May long weekend to September long weekend, they had time to move from talk to action. In those months, they had to commit to completing something that would concretely benefit watershed management and health. Anyone could participate, and our final total was 42 signatories, ranging from Municipal Districts to families:

City of Lethbridge
Town of Vauxhall
Lethbridge County
U of L
Solar Optix Energy Services
Taber Irrigation District
Town of Coalhurst
MD Taber
Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce
Town of Nanton
Town of Magrath
Environment Lethbridge
Global Citizenship for Oldman Watershed
Pogo Bros Inc.
Chinook Food Connect
Oxbow Native Plants
Friends of Helen Schuler Nature Centre Society
Lethbridge Naturalists Society
Hager Family
Guenther Family
Casson Family
Matthew Halton High School
St. Michael's School
Serendipity Childcare LTD
Lethbridge West Constituency Office
Lethbridge East Constituency Office
North Blood Drummers
14th McKillop Scouts
Timber Ridge Conservation Site
St. Mary River Irrigation District
William Singer III & Lori Brave Rock
Southern Alberta Group for the Environment
Trout Unlimited Oldman Chapter
Town of Picture Butte
MD of Willow Creek
Southern Alberta Land Trust Society
Backyard Wilderness
Waterton Biosphere Reserve
Canyon School
Village of Nobleford
Johnson-McPherson Family

The Southern Alberta Water Charter was written by Anna Garleff, OWC Communications Specialist, after noticing how much effort was being placed, at all leadership levels, on planning and discussing - and how difficult it seemed to be to move from talk to action. “Moving From Talk To Action” is the theme of #SAWC17, which provided a platform for literally anyone to do something to improve watershed management or health.     

The Charter is based on three main pieces of legislation: the UN General Assembly, which declared safe water a human right in 2010; the Canada Water Act, written in 1985 as a response to the increasing threat of polution to waterways; and the Province of Alberta’s 2003 Water For Life strategy for water sustainability. 

Garleff says: “The strength of this project is that it showcases the good work happening in the watershed  and celebrates these actions, no matter by whom (preschool, city, drumming group, scientists, families, etc.) - or at what level. It showed that anyone and everyone can so something, and that building a better watershed knits us closer together as engaged citizens.”.

Everyone who signed the Charter is a role model - these citizens are inspiring further new projects and actions because the participation was so diverse. Every single person who lives, works, recreates and invests in Southern Alberta can relate to at least one of the #SAWC17 signatories. The project shows what someone like them is already doing, and hopefully more people will become inspired to also do something. 

There are three main pillars of action with the OWC: “Volunteer, Donate, and Make A Change”. All of the OWC’s research and projects depend on support from the community, as it is a non-profit, stakeholder-driven organization. 

The Oldman watershed is semi-arid, and yet has an economy based on irrigation-intense agriculture, water is a valuable commodity. In fact, our watershed is one of few in Alberta that is over-allocated. That means that there have been more water licenses issued than there is actually water in the river in dry years. Action on watershed issues has never been more critical. 

The Oldman watershed can continue to provide world-class recreational opportunities, rich economic benefits, a home to wildlife and many species at risk, a source of spiritual meaning, and life and prosperity from the headwaters through to the Hudson Bay - if we realize that we are all downstream.

On November 17th at the #SAWC17 closing ceremony, we get to review who did what and how effective it was. There will be awards for some, and lessons learned for all. 

(MEDIA NOTE: We have allocated a full half hour at the end of the ceremony for a MEDIA SCRUM with signatories. That way, you have the opportunity to approach any of the signatories and ask them specific questions that interest you. The signatories have all prepared some “sound bites” for you about their projects, and are eager to share them with you. Thank you for your interest in sharing this important story with your readers and listeners!) 

Oldman Watershed Council (OWC) is a large group of sector representatives, uniting together as a not-for-profit behind policies, research, education and projects for the betterment of watershed management and health. Our vision: a healthy, resilent watershed where people, wildlife, and habitat, thrive and prosper. 

While OWC receives some funding through government sources for certain mandated projects, over time we have expanded that role to become an essential community partner. Watershed work is people work: it is humans who impact the landscape. By engaging governments, municipalities, academics, landowners, businesses, students, volunteers, and donors, we connect people around the very thing that makes life and prosperity in Southern Alberta possible – water. 

Visit us at: www.oldmanwatershed.ca Please direct any further enquiries to anna@oldmanwatershed.ca