The Oldman Integrated Watershed Management Plan is a collaborative effort between the entire watershed community, informed by current scientific research, to create the community's plan for the watershed; achieved through stakeholder-led, action-oriented goals.
The goal of the OWC's Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) is to engage and empower watershed residents and decision makers to determine environmental outcomes and develop implementation strategies that maintain and improve the health and integrity of the Oldman watershed. Through this process, it is recognized that an IWMP is a long-term and shared responsibility, addressing cumulative effects and offering solutions for maintaining and improving watershed health.
An IWMP sets specific environmental targets and outlines how they will be achieved through developments of action plans. In order for these action plans to be successfully implemented, they will require the participation of the multi-stakeholder base within the watershed. An IWMP also makes recommendations to governments based on community input in order to encourage positive changes to law and policy that will benefit current residents and future generations. The OWC's role in the IWMP process is to facilitate discussion and build partnerships, provide recommendations to decision makers and to lead in areas where OWC members and staff can provide guidance and initiate action.
The IWMP process is iterative, participatory, and collaborative. The IWMP focuses on the environmental needs of the watershed with consideration of social, cultural and economic needs. It works to find ways to support people and communities while maintaining and improving watershed integrity. Recognizing that a strong, resilient economy depends on a healthy environment, working together for watershed integrity is a foundation for a sustainable future.
The Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Oldman Watershed is being developed in three successive phases. Each phase in the IWMP process builds on and integrates the best available science and local knowledge while having the ability to adapt to changing priorities and improved understanding of the condition of the watershed. The IWMP follows a path of watershed community and stakeholder engagement, issue identification, research, planning and implementation that leads to issue resolution. The planning process of the IWMP links to the Government of Alberta planning initiatives current to the time, such as the Land-Use Framework and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP).
IWMP process and phases
The Community Vision articulates how we want our future watershed to look; the State of the Watershed Report tells us how near or far we are from our Community Vision; and the Integrated Watershed Management Plan will define what we need to do to reach our Community Vision.
(This is the last commissioned report)
The Science - The State of the Watershed Report (SOW) provides a snapshot of the entire watershed under current land use and hydrological conditions. As an essential foundational report for the IWMP process, the OWC completed the Oldman River State of the Watershed Report in 2010. In addition to assessing the health of the Oldman watershed, the SOW provided the necessary scientific information to inform the Oldman Watershed Council Planning Priorities processes for the Integrated Watershed Management Plan. The SOW identifies knowledge gaps, future trends and developments and provides recommendations for action and best management practices.
The Social - This phase involved the formation of the Integrated Watershed Management Plan Visioning Team (VIWMP) in late 2008. The VIWMP's objective was to develop a community vision for the Oldman watershed in order to set the foundation for the IWMP. Through interviewing and surveying stakeholders, the VIWMP ensured cultural, economic, environmental and social values were represented. This phase of the planning process compliments the scientific components of the State of the Watershed Report (SOW). In the spring 2010 the VIWMP released the Community Vision and qualitative Outcomes Statements.
Community Vision: A healthy, resilient watershed where people, wildlife and habitat thrive
• Environmentally aware, responsible and motivated watershed residents
• A safe and secure water supply
• Balanced allocations and wise management of water
• Abundant, healthy and biologically diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in particular riparian areas, native grasslands, headwaters, native fish, and forested areas
• Land managed for multiple use with minimal impact on natural, cultural and historical assets
Risk and Priority Setting - Phase 2 combined the scientific knowledge from the State of the Watershed report with the qualitative outcomes developed in Phase 1 and used that information to set priorities and risks for the Oldman watershed. The initial step of this phase was the formation of the IWMP Core Team in the fall of 2010. 53 stakeholders were invited to participate on the Core Team where from that list, based on response and interest, a key set of 37 stakeholders representing a multitude of sectors were brought together to form the IWMP Core Team. The goal of the Core Team was to set priorities and identify risks in the Oldman Watershed.
Four 1-2 day workshops were held with the Core Team, and through their focused work, 34 Risk Statements to the Community's Vision for the watershed were identified and prioritized using a consensus-based approach. A consensus-based approach ensures a general agreement among stakeholders and although not all stakeholders may agree to the same extent, they can support the decisions made without compromising important needs and values. This approach also provides participants with a broader understanding of the multitude of stakeholder concerns and interests related to the watershed.
From the 34 Risk Statements, the top 10 were identified by the Core Team in order to narrow the focus on specific issues that an Integrated Watershed Management Plan must address. A Process Summary and Recommendations report for phase 2 was completed in early 2011 - see below for a pdf.
IWMP Phase 2 - Oldman Watershed Planning Priorities: Process Summary and Recommendations
IWMP Phase 2 – Fact Sheet – September 2010
IWMP Phase 2 - Frequently Asked Questions
IWMP Phase 2 - Process Update - December 2010
Moving to Action - Phase 3 involved narrowing down the 34 Risk Statements from Phase 2 and compiling them into 8 action-oriented Goals. The 8 Goals represent the Risk Statements that were considered priorities to encourage stakeholder action in order to improve the Oldman watershed. A Watershed Planning Team, appointed by the OWC's Board of Directors, considered all the information collected from the Oldman River State of the Watershed Report and from the IWMP Phases 1 and 2 to formulate the 8 Goals. In December 2011, the Oldman Watershed Council released Priorities for the Oldman Watershed: Promoting action to maintain and improve our watershed.
The eight goals of the Oldman IWMP will be addressed through successive efforts in the greater watershed community. Goals may require the development of Action Plans that can include specific targets, actions and recommendations to decision-makers in order to achieve the desired outcomes of each goal. These Goals are the foundation of the Integrated Watershed Management Plan - outlining a community-involved and scientifically-backed process that addresses priority land and water resource issues across the watershed.