February 04, 2010 19:36 ET

No Consensus on Water Withdrawal Recommendations for the Lower Athabasca River

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 4, 2010) - WWF-Canada would like to clarify comments by the Cumulative Effects Management Association (CEMA) to ensure that the recommendations of the Phase 2 Framework Committee (P2FC) are accurately reflected in the public domain.

In its February 4 press release, CEMA made statements that could be misconstrued to indicate that the P2FC achieved consensus on rules to govern water withdrawals and that these rules will be implemented. While the members of the P2FC, including WWF-Canada, worked through challenging negotiations to arrive at recommendations, consensus was not achieved on a set of rules to govern water withdrawals for the Lower Athabasca River.

1. CEMA's press release states that the Phase 2 Water Management
Framework includes, amongst other things, an allowance for
water withdrawals of 4.4 m3/s during low flow conditions. The
P2FC did not reach consensus on a set of rules to govern water
withdrawals. Hence, the P2FC report deliberately refers to a
set of rules supported by some committee members, but not other
members, as "Option H", not the "Phase 2 Water Management

2. The actual Water Management Framework to be implemented in 2011
will reflect the P2FC recommendations and the input of First
Nations and the public collected during a year of consultation.
CEMA's press release fails to make a distinction between the
P2FC's recommendations and the product of the consultation phase
by using the same language - "Phase 2 Water Management
Framework" - to refer to both.

To be clear: during the first half of 2010, Alberta Environment
and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are expected to
produce a Draft Phase 2 Water Management Framework that could
well be modified during consultations with the First Nations
and the public based on the P2FC's report. In the latter half
of 2010, the regulators will solicit public input on the Draft
Phase 2 Water Management Framework and produce a Final Phase 2
Water Management Framework.

This news release and associated material can be found on www.wwf.ca.

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