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Highwood Storage and Diversion Plan Joint Review Panel

News Release

Highwood Storage and Diversion Plan Joint Review Panel
Issues Progress Report #2

Edmonton, January 12, 2001 - The Highwood Storage and Diversion Plan Joint Review Panel today issued a report that summarizes Alberta Infrastructure's progress and approach for completing its proposed Highwood Storage and Diversion Plan. The Panel's report reviews Alberta Infrastructure's intentions to evaluate storage sites and develop a diversion plan within the context of the Highwood River Basin Management Plan. Alberta Environment is developing the Highwood Management Plan with the assistance of an independent Public Advisory Committee. Both departments presented their plans for future work to the Panel at a public meeting held in High River on November 22, 2000. The report also addresses public comments brought forward at that meeting.

In its report, the Panel concludes that, in general, the process and schedule proposed by Alberta Infrastructure and Alberta Environment are consistent with the conclusions and recommendations outlined in the Panel's June 2000 report. The Panel offers some additional recommendations to help ensure that the outstanding requirements of Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) Board Order 9601-1 are met by the March 2002 deadline. These include having the two departments file progress reports and having Alberta Infrastructure conduct a "fatal flaw" analysis to determine whether one or more offstream storage sites can be ruled out of the analysis. The Panel proposes holding another progress meeting in June 2001, although this could occur sooner if there are significant delays in the schedule.

The Panel was established jointly under the Alberta Natural Resources Conservation Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act on March 22, 2000. The Panel's mandate is to examine the environmental, social and economic effects of developing offstream water storage in the Highwood River basin and proposed changes to the diversion plan for the Highwood River.

A previous joint review process originally considered the issues of offstream storage and the diversion plan. However, the previous panel concluded in its report of June 1998 that there was insufficient information to consider these issues adequately and Alberta Infrastructure was asked to carry out additional studies, as set out in NRCB Board Order 9601-1.

Copies of the report are available from the NRCB, 4th Floor, Sterling Place, 9940 -106 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2N2, or by calling (780) 422-1977.

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The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) provides a fair, open and impartial forum for Albertans to take part in the review of natural resource development projects such as forestry, recreational, water management and tourism projects.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (Agency) is a federal agency reporting to the Minister of the Environment. Its mission is to provide Canadians with high-quality environmental assessments that contribute to informed decision-making in support of sustainable development. Environmental assessment is a planning tool used to identify the possible adverse effects of development projects on the environment.

Information can be found on the NRCB's web site at www.nrcb.gov.ab.ca.

For more information, please contact:

William Young Kennedy
General Counsel
Natural Resources Conservation Board
Tel: (780) 422-1977

Robert Deslauriers
Senior Communications Advisor
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Tel: (819) 953-9407