Alberta's water management program is making progress but there is a lot of work still to be done, especially in terms of outcome measurements, according to a review on the province's water strategy, the Calgary Herald has reported. The province is planning to make water management a top priority for 2013, it was revealed.

The strategy, called Water for Life, was first introduced a decade ago with the aim of protecting Alberta's rivers, lakes and groundwater. The plan also included setting up the Alberta Water Council, which is responsible for regular reviews of the strategy and implements changes to the action plan if necessary.

In its latest review, released in December 2012, the Alberta Water Council recommended that the province should keep implementing the plan despite the challenges it may face in the process. Andre Asselin, project manager for the review, commented that Alberta is making significant progress in a number of areas regarding water management. However, a lot more work is required and the province should strive to continue the momentum that has been gathered over the past 10 years for better results, he added.

Overall, the report makes 10 recommendations in relation to Alberta's water management, including developing a water-management approach, carrying out a water allocation review and finalizing and implementing a wetland policy. Nine of the recommended steps have appeared in previous reviews as well but the last one has been put forward for the first time. It recommends that the province develops a set of metrics that can be used to better assess the outcomes of the action plan it is implementing, the Calgary Herald noted.

Commenting on the latest review, Jessica Potter, a spokeswoman with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources, said that it provides a useful insight as Alberta starts public consultations around water issues. Starting a dialogue over water management is one of the priorities for the province in the new year and talks will focus on issues like hydraulic fracturing, drinking and wastewater systems and healthy lakes, she explained.

While Alberta environment and sustainable resources minister Diana McQueen was unavailable to comment on the report, she wrote about it in a blog post, saying that it was generally favorable and noted that the province is on the right track to achieve its goals. It also provides recommendations, some of which are broader, while others are more technical and they are all a reminder of the importance to keep working hard, she commented.

Alberta's conservation organizations welcome the Water for Life strategy and believe that the council's recommendations are reasonable, but claimed that the government did not take them seriously enough. According to Bill Donahue, director of science and policy with Water Matters, Alberta is a province with poor water resources because of its geographical location and future projections suggest that amounts of water available are going to decline. Still, many officials treat the problem as insignificant and if measures for a more efficient management of water resources are not taken, the future will be hard, he claimed.