DAWSON CREEK- ? Groups concerned with the health the Kiskatinaw River watershed reviewed the Kiskatinaw River Watershed Source Protection Plan (KRWSPP) at a stakeholders meeting on December 12 in the Kin Arena.

Hosted by Rod Harmon, Water Resource Manager for the City of Dawson Creek and consultant Don Dobson of Dobson Engineering Ltd., the meeting was attended by stakeholders that operate in the watershed. This included representatives from the oil and gas sector, ranchers and farmers, forestry and recreational users.

Up for discussion was the draft report of the KRWSPP prepared for the City to bring stakeholders up-to-date about the monitoring of raw water quality in the watershed by the Ministry of the Environment, as well as recommendations for action.

The report?s objectives were to describe the watershed and how it was being used, to identify hazards to a safe, sustainable water supply and to recommend ways to correct the problems identified.

?Many of the challenges in getting good drinking water are from natural causes like removing the sediments and organic material washed into the river,? said Dobson. ?But we still have a responsibility to remediate the problems created by people using the watershed that are identified in the report.?

Two problems identified in the watershed were the presence of bacteria and parasites originating from human, wildlife and livestock sources. While data collected by the Ministry of Environment couldn?t pinpoint the exact sources of contamination, the indications were that human waste originated from recreational users, residences, worksites and camps while the presence of Giardia cysts responsible for beaver fever include beaver, moose, deer and cattle.

While the safety of City water isn?t in question, the health of the watershed can be improved, said Rod Harmon. ?We can control the quality of water from our intake at Arras to the tap in your home, but we have no authority to control what happens in the watershed. At this point we need someone on the ground to monitor the watershed and assist people in reducing their impact on the river and our water supply.?

Gabreile Matscha of the Ministry of the Environment stressed the need for a co-operative management approach that included all stakeholders and agencies that had a responsibility to ensure a safe drinking water supply.

At the conclusion of the meeting it was recommended that a working group be established to monitor how the watershed is used and co-ordinate efforts to improve the quality of the water that arrives at the City water intake at Arras.