Watershed program loses gov’t funding

Watershed stewardship programs will not receive funds through an Alberta government grant program this year.

The program has been running since 2006 and in that time had allocated $1.8 million for 127 community based watershed groups.

However, the Land Stewardship Centre, which redistributes the provincial grant money to groups that apply, learned at the end of June that its application for $250,000 was not approved.

Executive director Brian Ilnicki said the government’s decision came as a surprise, although funding has never been guaranteed.

“It’s like any grant. You apply every year … so there is a certain level of uncertainty,” said Ilnicki.

Calls to Alberta Environment and Parks about the reason for the program’s disappearance this year were not returned.

Ilnicki said he had been told the reason was budgetary. He said the LSC was disappointed that the government would not help fund community watershed projects this year, even though those projects support the provincial Water for Life strategy.

Community groups were often able to leverage provincial grant money at a ratio of about 4:1, Ilnicki added.

“These groups and their projects have all contributed to bringing the Water for Life Strategy goals to life, and making healthy aquatic ecosystems, reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy, and safe, secure drinking water a reality,” said a LSC news release about the funding.

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