Goal 4: Report Emergency and Unusual Water Conditions

In the PPWB's Strategic Plan, Goal 4 is to inform jurisdictions of emergency and unusual water conditions. Historically, the Contingency Plan only considered spills that affected surface water but its scope was expanded in March 2010 to include emergency or unusual surface water quantity or groundwater quantity and quality events.

Careful day-to-day management and spill prevention are the best ways to maintain good interprovincial water quality and quantity. However, with all the human activity near prairie streams or interprovincial aquifers, the occasional spill or event is inevitable. Unusual water quality conditions that cause public concern may also be detected.

For these occurrences, the Prairie Provinces Water Board (PPWB) has implemented a Contingency Plan that is used to keep member agencies informed of any events including spills or unusual water quality or quantity conditions that have the potential to adversely affect interprovincial surface water bodies or groundwater aquifers, or cause public concern. This Contingency Plan does not supercede any local, provincial, federal or national contingency plans now in existence. It is intended to ensure that a communication network is established so that neighbouring jurisdictions are properly notified. The plan alerts all agencies enabling them to take appropriate action, including notif­ication, to minimize public health hazards and effects on the environ­ment. With accurate information, these agencies can do appropriate monitoring and take protective measures.

Historically, a number of spills or unusual water conditions have been reported to the Board and Committee on Water Quality (COWQ). The PPWB's Contingency Plan has been found to be very effective to mitigate negative impacts to surface water quality at the Alberta-Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan-Manitoba borders. No groundwater or surface water quantity events have been reported yet.

The Plan in Action

The individual who is first informed of the event will be designated as the lead for the initial notification steps. After initial notification has occurred, the lead responsibility may change to the jurisdiction in which the event has occurred.

Upon notification of an event, the lead will:

  1. Determine whether the event is a spill that requires immediate reporting and, when required, contact the appropriate agencies via the 24-hour spill lines in each province.

  2. Complete a PPWB Event Notification Report and email to all members of relevant PPWB committees (COWQ, Committee on Groundwater (COG), and Committee on Hydrology (COH)) and the PPWB Executive Director.

  3. Upstream and downstream agencies will take any action they decide is necessary to minimize environmental impact, and to protect and inform the public.

  4. Environment and Climate Change Canada may undertake additional monitoring at PPWB transboundary sites if necessary.

  5. Provide results of immediate investigations or follow-up studies of the event to the relevant committees and the PPWB Executive Director.

  6. The committees will report to the PPWB on any interprovincial implications. COWQ, COG and COH may also suggest measures which could be used to prevent such events from occurring again.

Promote public awareness of the need for and benefits of interprovincial water management and the PPWB's mandate.