Water Stewardship Taskforce: Some Questions Answered

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
April 7th, 2009


Under our previous City Council, Rossland went through an open process of public participation to build a “Strategic Sustainability Plan” (SSP) and a new Official Community Plan based on the SSP. A “Sustainability Commission” was formed to move the SSP forward.

Now, to ensure that the community at large shares in determining in how the SSP is carried out, our current City Council has approved the next step in the plan: continuing the “Sustainability Commission” and setting up (at time of writing) three Task Forces, each responsible for collecting information and for two-way communication with the public on one of the “focus areas” of the SSP.

Many people have not yet heard about the Task Forces, and those who have may not be clear on what they are doing.

True to Rossland form, some residents are asking questions. Excellent! Here are the questions we’ve heard so far, and some answers. If you have questions about the Water Stewardship Task Force (WSTF) that aren’t answered here, please feel free to post them here, and we’ll post answers as soon as we can – remember, getting answers from a group takes a bit longer than answers from an individual!

Q: Why has it taken so long for the Task Forces to start doing anything? I heard they were set up last fall.
A: There was a delay while the new City Council considered and debated the value of having the Sustainability Commission (SC) and/or the Task Forces (TFs). Some Council members questioned the need for one or both; but ultimately the decision was made to carry on with both the SC and the TFs.

Q: Who is on the Task Forces?
A: Each TF consists of five volunteer voting members, plus one non-voting City staff person. The five members include two professionals or other persons with specific qualifications relevant to the work of the TF, and three community representatives. The chair of each TF was appointed by the SC, and sits as a member of the SC.

Q: Who is on the WSTF?
A: Jen Vogel, Ami Haworth, Sara Golling, Bill Profili, and Bill Micklethwaite. And the City staff member who assists us is the City Engineer, Mike Thomas. Sara Golling is the chair.

Q: How much are Task Force members paid?
A: Nothing.

Q: What is the Water Stewardship Task Force supposed to do?
A: That’s a big question! We’re just getting started, and there’s a lot to be done. The short answer is that we will be making recommendations to City Council for actions that will help achieve Rossland’s adopted sustainability goals around water – our water supply, watershed management, water infrastructure, effective water use, and water disposal. Before we make many recommendations, we will be doing research, asking questions of the public and carefully considering the answers we get. We’ll also be sharing with the public any relevant information we find in our research, by posting it here and other places — watch for it! One of our primary goals is to update and expand the City’s Water Management Plan.

Q. What will you do when you find contradictory information, or get conflicting “expert” opinions?
A: One of the first things we did was to adopt a set of principles to guide ourselves, and one of those was the “precautionary principle”. We think that means that, when faced with conflicting opinions or contradictory information, we will choose to accept the opinion or information which we think poses the least risk to our watershed, water quality, or other resources.

Q: Has the WSTF made any recommendations yet?
A: Just one. We recommended that the City measure the flows on our three main water supply creeks over a period of one year, and to see whether there is a positive correlation between those flows and the ones on Big Sheep Creek, which is already measured regularly. This will give us some crucial missing information on water supply and its sources.

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That’s all for now – watch this space for more. Send questions if you have any.


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