Draft Environmental Management Frameworks for the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan

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Nov 9, 2013 (3 years and 1 month ago)

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1

Summary of Alberta Environment’s

Draft Environmental

Management Frameworks

for the

Lower Athabasca Regional Plan


Alberta Environment is developing air

quality
, surface water
quality
and groundwater management frameworks
for the Lower Athabasca Region Pla
n.
M
anagement frameworks
are a tool for

managing cumulative effects and
thereby protect
groun
dwater

across the region
, air quality

in the region
, and the water quality of the Lower
Athabasca River.
We have received advice from the Regional Advisory Counci
l and
technical input
from
stakeholders. Over July and August

2010,

we hope to create awareness of the management frameworks with
key groups within the region (industry, First Nations, Métis and Non
-
governmental Organizations

and multi
-
stakeholder steward
ship groups
) and provide an opportunity for

these stakeholders

to
comment on the
drafts.
C
onsultation on the frameworks will be conducted
by the Land Use Secretariat
through the
Lower Athabasca
Regional P
lan

development

process.


This document is design
ed to
accompany
and provide context for
and an overview of
the draft management
frameworks
, and

background
on the
Land
-
u
se Framework
. As you read through this document and the
accompanying management frameworks
,

consider the following questions:



Do you un
derstand the goals and overall intent of the frameworks?



Do you think the frameworks are an improvement on how cumulative effects

are currently managed
?



What opportunities
/challenges

do you foresee
in

implementing these frameworks, individually and
/or

as
a

package
?


For more informat
ion contact

Lisa Sadownik
of Alberta Environment
at lisa.sadownik@gov.ab.ca.



Background


Land
-
u
se Framework

Released in December 2008
,

Alberta’s
Land
-
use Framework

set
s

out
a

new approach for managing public and
private lands

and natural resources to achieve Alberta’s long
-
term economic, environmental and social goals. It
is a blueprint designed to guide us in making decisions about our land and natural resources, developed after
extensive consultation with Albertans. The
La
nd
-
use Framework

establishes three desired outcomes for our
province:



A healthy economy supported by our land and natural resources;



Healthy ecosystems and environment; and



People
-
friendly communities with ample recreational and cultural opportunities.


To

achieve

these outcomes
,

the
Land
-
use Framework

identifies a number of key strategies
,

one of which
is

to
develop seven regional plans (
Figure
1
). The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan
has been

identified as
a
priority.


Lower Athabasca Regional Plan

(LARP
)

The Lower Athabasca Region includes the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Lac La Biche County and
the Municipal District of Bonnyville. In December 2008
,

the Government of Alberta established the LARP
Regional Advisory Council (RAC) to provide insi
ght and perspectives on present and future land
-
use activities
and challenges in the region. They provided local insight and perspectives on present and future land
-
use





2

activities and challenges in the region. Their mandate was to provide advice to Cabin
et regarding the region
al

plan.


In the summer of 2009
,

the LARP Terms of Reference was released outlining what the regional plan will entail.
It stated that the regional plan will identify and set resource and environmental management outcomes for air
,
land, water and biodiversity, and guide future resource decisions while considering social and economic
impacts.


Figure
1: Map of
Land
-
use

F
ramework
’s seven planning regions

and the
Lower Athabasca Region.





Management Frameworks


What are Manage
ment Frameworks?

Management frameworks provide an understanding of current state, emerging trends, challenges and
opportunities. They identify outcomes and objectives
that
link

to other outcomes and objectives at provincial





3

and regional scales
. They also

describe
the approaches that will be taken in order to achieve the outcomes and
objectives and set the foundation for ongoing monitoring, evaluation and reporting.


To support the management frameworks and overall shift towards cumulative effects manage
ment and regional
planning
,

Alberta Environment is considering amendments
to
the
Alberta
Environmental Protection and
Enhancement Act
.


The
EPEA
amendments
being considered are
described as follows:



Amend the
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act

to

allow Director initiated amendments of
Approvals to support the achievement of outcomes if there is a term or condition of the Approval
allowing the amendment;



Amend the
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act

to allow Directors to take assurance act
ion
and issue an Environmental Protection Order for the purpose of meeting an outcome;



Amend the
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act
to afford the Minister and Directors the
ability to develop and implement Management Frameworks and Cumulative Eff
ects Directives;



Amend the
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act
to ensure Directors comply with, take into
account or have regard for regional plans and management frameworks when making decisions;

and,



Consider the applicability of similar amendme
nts to the
Water Act

and address accordingly.


What are the
d
raft
LARP Management Frameworks?

Alberta Environment is developing
air

quality
, surface water
quality
and groundwater
management frameworks
to contribute to cumulative effects management and impl
ementation of the province’s
Land
-
u
se Framework
.

The following
pages
provide a brief overview of each of the LARP management frameworks.


The management frameworks build on existing environment
al

policy, legislation and regulation.
Each
management fram
ework identifies desired outcomes and objectives as well as the approaches and actions that
will be used to achieve them. They also set the foundation for ongoing monitoring, evaluation and reporting
including
communicati
ng

the results to Albertans.


Ho
w have the
d
raft
LARP
Management Frameworks

been d
eveloped?

The management frameworks
are being
developed considering input from a number
of different
stakeholder
s
.
Over July and August
,

Alberta Environmental aims

to create awareness of the draft manageme
nt frameworks
with key groups within the region (industry, First Nations, Métis and Non
-
governmental Organizations) and
provide an opportunity for comment. Final consultation on the frameworks will be conducted by the Land Use
Secretariat through the regi
onal planning process.


How will the

d
raft

LARP
Management Frameworks be i
mplemented?

The LARP Management Frameworks are
in the process of
being developed and there are a lot of questions
about how they will implemented

-

W
hen will they come into affect
?

W
hat resources will be available
?

W
ho
will be involved
?

Th
ese are all questions that Alberta Environment has

been
considering
,

and
the department
look
s

forward to
receiving
stakeholder feedback
.





4

Draft
Lower Athabasca River
Surface
Water
Quality
Manageme
nt
Framework


The Lower Athabasca Region covers portions of four
major river basins.

For the
regional plan
,

we are focus
ed

on the Lower Athabasca River
(
downstream of the Grand
Rapids to the conference with Lake Athabasca
)
.


The surface water
quality
1

com
ponent of the plan builds
on our existing provincial water legislation
and

policy as
well as key regional agreements
and

commitments
including:



Master Agreement on Apportionment (1969)



Cold Lake
-
Beaver River Water Management Plan
(2006)



Water Management Fr
amework
: Instream Flow
Needs Water Management System for
the Lower
Athabasca River (2007)
.


The surface water quality management piece for the
Lower Athabasca River:



Outlines ambient surface water quality triggers and
limits that clarify Government of Albe
rta
expectations and address cumulative effects;



Commits to enhancing transparency and assurance
through regular monitoring and reporting on
ambient river conditions; and



Strengthens the existing Water Management
Framework through the addition of a water q
uality
component.



The framework includes water quality limits and triggers.



A water quality trigger is a point which a
statistically
significant change in water quality can be detected.



The water quality limits in the framework are developed based on e
xisting Alberta
, Canadian Council of Min
isters
of the Environment
,
Health Canada
and United States

E
nvironmental Protection
A
gency

Guidelines.

The

limits
were

chosen
to protect
existing and future water uses
(industrial, agricultural, recreational and a
e
s
th
et
ics, drinking
water or protection of aquatic life
).




Management
a
ctions
are required when triggers and/or limits
are
reached.



Green, yellow and red conditions are all acceptable water quality conditions under certain circumstances (e.g., red
and a na
tural exceedance of a limit, or yellow and limited risk to water uses or the aquatic environment).


Level Definitions:

Level

Definition

Management Intent

Green

M
ean and peak values

at or better than
historic water quality conditions
.

All licensees operate

normally under approval
conditions and all
existing water, wastewater and aquatic ecosystem policies apply.

Yellow

Exceedance of early warning triggers

due to human causes.

Investigation of cause and effects

and evaluation
and implementation
of managem
ent

options
.

Red

Exceedance of limits

due to human or
natural causes.

Where limits are exceeded due to human causes,
evaluation and
implementation of management

options

including load reduction will
be required
.




1

The Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) has submitted
The Phase II of the Water Management
Framework (qu
antity) for the Lower Athabasca. Consultation on Phase II is ongoing.







5

Draft
G
roundwater Management Frameworks


There are three
draft
groundwater
frameworks

for the region
:



Groundwater Management Framework for the
North
Athabasca
Oil Sands





Groundwater Management Framework for the South Athabasca
Oil Sands



Groundwater Management

Framework for the Cold Lake
Beaver
River Region



The goal
of the groundwater management framework
s
is
to provide a
system to manage groundwater resources in a sustainable manner and
to
protect from contamination or over
-
use. The goal is also to develop
a
consistent approach that manages

cumulative effects of
non
-
saline
groundwater across the Lower Athabasca

R
egion.

The intent
of the groundwater management framework
s

is to

provide a system for evaluating quantity and quality of
groundwater i
n the Lower
Athabasca

R
egion
.


Each management framework
:



Assesses the current state of ground water resources within the study area
;




Defines/refines the baseline and range of natural variability
; and



Provides a means to

detect and assess changes to groundwater

res
ources from future development or natural events.


The frameworks include three key components:



Establish
ing

scientifically
-
based target
s

and threshold values

based on current level of knowledge and data

for
identified indicators
.



Monitoring

to assess the
condition of groundwater quality and quantity within key aquifers
.



Management

actions
will be responsive to the evaluation process and will be
tailored to specified targets and
thresholds to ensure sustainability of regional groundwater resources
.


The
e
stablished
regional groundwater monitoring network
s

aim to

ensure timely detection of changes to key
indicators
that warrant

response, investigation and possible mitigation. Data collected will be evaluated and communicated on a
regular basis.
Implementat
ion of the
groundwater management framework
s

will consist of the development of
Groundwater Management Plans by
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act

approval holders and the
establishment of a
Regional
Groundwater Working Group
s

that will maintain
and manage the regional groundwater
monitoring network
s
.


Level Definitions:

Level

Definition

Management Intent

Green

Status Quo: Groundwater

quality and quantity
measurement
s

are
within an established
baseline or range of natural variability.


All licens
ees operate normally under approval limits and
ambient monitoring and data collection.

Yellow

Action Level: Evaluation of data indicates an
established target has been exceeded.


Implementation of the investigative phase of the
groundwater management pl
an occurs. Management
activities may be invoked as appropriate.







6

Draft
Air
Quality
Management Framework


The Draft
Air Quality Management Framework sets
ambient air
quality

triggers

and
limit
s

for
NO
2

and SO
2

(two
substances of concern within the region
)
.
The
framework

is designed to maintain flexibility and to
proactively manage cumulative effec
ts to air quality
within the Lower Athabasca Region
.


The
objective is

to
proactively manage

ambient air
quality by identifying the sources
and
implementing
appr
opriate place
-
based management actions if ambient
air
quality

triggers or
limit
s are reached.


Emissions management includes not only industrial
emissions, but also other sources such as transportation
and municipalities.


The framework
is

complimentar
y to the existing
regulatory system and was designed considering the
existing air monitoring networks in the
Lower
Athabasca Region
.


Goals

of the
draft

Air Quality Management Framework

are to
:



Manage

air quality to ensure the Alberta Ambient
Air Quality O
bjectives (AQOs) are not reached;



Demonstrate cumulative effects are managed
;



Enable development within acceptable
e
nvironmental cumulative effects; and,



Define
ambient air quality
triggers based on
ambient monitoring (set below AQOs) with
associated mana
gement responses to proactively
manage air quality in the region




Ambient Level Definitions
:

Level

Definition

Management Intent

1

Ambient

air quality

well below A
mbient
Quality Objective (A
QO
)
.

Avoid or minimize degradation wherever reasonable or
poss
ible
.


2

Ambient
air quality

below AQO
.

Early indication of emerging air quality issues, time to react
and plan
.


3

Ambient
air quality

below but approaching
the AQO
.

Identification of pressures and
implementation of
management actions to prevent reachin
g AQOs
.


4

Ambient
air quality

exceeding the AQO
.

Emission reductions required


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