Environment - Sustainability

T: 780-322-3831 | F: 780-322-3000 | Email: agservices@northernsunrise.net 
Address:  10203 - 101 Avenue (Railway), Nampa AB, T0H 2R0

Watershed Advisory Committee (WAC)

(Formerly the Heart River Basin Advisory Committee)
The purpose of the WAC is to exercise those developmental powers and duties assigned to it in accordance with the Municipal Government Act.  The goal of the WAC is to continue to carry out functions and duties such as assigned by Northern Sunrise County Council that was delegated to the Heart River Basin Advisory Committee.  The WAC may advise and assist Council to achieve orderly, economical and beneficial use of wetlands, and monitor environmental services.  The WAC will provide and seek community input into the decision making process that shapes how "Alternative Land Use Services" is being delivered in Northern Sunrise County.

Heart River Watershed Report Cards

Water Sampling Report Cards

Sampling locations were changed in 2016.
Refer to sampling sites maps.

Sampling Sites Map

2012 NSC Heart River Watershed 1
2013 NSC Heart River Watershed 2


Our programs and strategies have been developed to meet the following goals:

  • to monitor the water quality
  • delivery of Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS Canada)
  • protection of natural environment (soil & water)
  • re-establish Fish Habitat
  • promotion of awareness of agricultural matters
The Watershed Advisory Committee supports the Government of Alberta Water for Life goals.

Water for Life
Water is not only a resource, it is a life source.  We all share the responsibility to ensure a healthy, secure and sustainable water supply for our communities, environment, and economy - our quality of life depends on it.  The Government of Alberta has released the Water for Life action plan, a roadmap that the government and its' partners will follow over the next 10 years.  The action plan supports the goals and directions in Alberta's renewed Water for Life Strategy.

Heart River Watershed Restoration Project

In 2014 the Heart River Watershed Restoration Project was initiated with the primary objective of producing a plan to restore fish habitat in the Heart River watershed.   The Heart River Watershed Restoration Plan was developed and outlines six activities that have been collaboratively chosen by the HWRP team (Project Partners) as restoration initiatives, namely;

  1. Riparian Vegetation: goal to increase the percentage of riparian area that is vegetated and an increase in Cows and Fish Riparian Health score;
  2. Farm Water Planning:  goal to increase water retention on the landscape and an increase in the distribution of nutrients over the watershed;
  3. Culvert Improvement:  goal to reduce sediment loading in the Heart River and tributaries as well as the mitigation of one fish passage barrier;
  4. Stream Bank Fencing & Bank Erosion:  goal to reduce sediment loading in the Heart River and Tributaries and increase the area of banks stabilized;
  5. Livestock Management:  goal of increasing the number of off-site watering points installed and increase the Cows and Fish Riparian Health score;
  6. Crop Setbacks:  goal to increase the number of hectares put back into permanent vegetation, the number of hectares put back into native vegetation and an increase in Cows and Fish Riparian health score if it is in riprian zones.

The value of restoration projects includes more than just the physical changes on a landscape.  Improved understanding of land use practices and the resulting effects on fish or fish habitat is important to encourage change in behaviours and practices on the landscape.  Restoration efforts and outreach activities focused on restoration within the watershed can also provide momentum for community participation and additional efforts in the future.  The developement of community relationships and partnerships between agencies are also recognized as positive outcomes. 

Successful watershed restoration requires plans that are realistic, address stakeholder priorities and are practical to implement.  Ensuring a restoration plan meets these conditions allows it to be more easily used by various agencies and individuals to combine efforts in fish habitat restoration and enhancement.

Map of the Watershed

Riparian Protection

What is a Riparian?  Riparian areas are the lands adjacent to streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands, where the vegetation and soils are strongly influenced by the presence of water.  Although they make up only a small fraction of the land, they are among the most productive and valuable of all landscape types and have been the focus of conflicts between resource users.

What is the status of riparian areas in Alberta?  The health of riparian areas has declined dramatically in many areas of Alberta since the early 1900's.  Although there are many causes of this, one main reason is that we often do not understand or fully appreciate the functions and roles riparian areas provide to landscapes and societies.  Although riparian areas make up only a small fraction of our landscape, they are disproportionately important to fish and wildlife, recreation, agriculture, and society in general.

(Extract from: Cows and Fish - Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society)

What Can Farmers Do About Climate Change? Riparian Forest Buffers by Hannah Pakcman, NFU 

Several weeks ago, the Climate Column introduced filter strips, also known as buffer strips, which are areas of vegetation planted between cropland and surface water to obstruct the passage of sediment and pollutants into environmentally sensitive areas. One subcategory of filter strips are riparian forest buffers, described by the National Agroforestry Center (NAC) as areas adjacent to waterbodies that contain “a combination of trees, shrubs, and/or other perennial plants.” Like filter strips, riparian forest buffers are managed “differently from the surrounding landscape, primarily to provide conservation benefits.”

Riparian forest buffers and filter strips are generally implemented with a similar environmental goal: filtering pollutants –  including pesticides, waste, and fertilizer – from agricultural runoff, preventing their entry into nearby waterbodies. In addition to improving water quality, both conservation practices offer a number of secondary environmental benefits. For instance, the additional vegetative cover and diverse root system can stabilize otherwise highly erodible soils.

Furthermore, all varieties of filter strips, including forest riparian buffers, can support biodiversity by providing habitat for existing wildlife populations and helping protect pollinator populations.

Because forest riparian buffers include trees, which other filter strips often do not, they also grant some unique advantages. Forest buffers provide shade, which can foster both terrestrial and aquatic species that thrive in cooler temperatures. Additionally, perennial vegetation like trees are particularly effective for long-term atmospheric carbon sequestration, making forest riparian buffers a potential tool for farmers to decrease the greenhouse gas footprint of their operation.

Forest riparian buffers are not just an environmental boon, but an economic one as well. Farmers can diversify income streams by choosing buffer species that produce fruits, nuts, or decorative florals. Moreover, buffers can protect pre-existing cropland from flood damage by slowing the flow of water, thus acting as insurance for the earning on those crops.

Like all conservation practices, the success of forest riparian buffers depends on planning. Careful consideration of appropriate species, complementary conservation practices and width of the buffer strips will be contingent on individual circumstances, soil quality, topography, crop types, infrastructure, and local markets.

Original article can be found at https://nfu.org/2017/04/03/what-can-farmers-do-about-climate-change-riparian-forest-buffers/ .

Watershed Advisory Committee Meetings

WAC Meetings are held at Northern Sunrise County Council Chambers.  If the meeting venue changes an update will be posted here.

Meeting Schedule 

(6 - 8 p.m.) unless other timings are posted

Click on the link to be redirected to the Northern Sunrise County CivicWeb to view past and upcoming meeting dates. 

Agendas & Minutes

Agendas and minutes are available on Northern Sunrise County's website, once approved by the Chairperson.

Agenda and Minutes are available for download in PDF format

Clicking on the above link will redirect to the Northern Sunrise County CivicWeb to view  past, upcoming meeting dates, published agendas & minutes.

Join a Board or Committee

To apply for a position on a Board or Committee, submit the Committee Application Form (PDF) along with a current resume. 

Vacant positions will be advertised in the local newspaper, and on the Northern Sunrise County website.

Appointment of members to Boards and Committees takes place at the annual organizational meeting of Council.

Programs & Grants

Growing Forward 2

The Growing Forward 2 Program offered by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry contains several grant programs for agricultural producers.

Program specialists and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry staff are available to help producers assess their operation and work through the application process.  Although this is not a Northern Sunrise County program, Agricultural Services staff are available to provide support and assist producers with their applications.

Growing Forward | Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | Phone: 310.FARM (3276) | Web:  www.growingforward.alberta.ca

Environmental Farm Plan (EFP)

An Environmental Farm Plan is a self-assessment process that allows producers to identify and evaluate the environmental risks and strengths that may be present within their agricultural operation.

This voluntary, confidential process provides producers with a free workbook aimed at creating awareness and issue identification.

Although this is not a Northern Sunrise County program, SARDA staff are available to provide support to assist residents with their applications.

Alberta Environmental Farm Plan | Phone: 310.FARM (3276) | Web: www.albertaefp.com

For further information contact SARDA (Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association)
Tel: 780-837-2900


Alternative Land Use Services

Northern Sunrise County has entered into a partnership with ALUS Canada (Alternative Land Use Services) to manage and deliver community-led, farmer-delivered environmental projects; utilizing the ALUS program model to establish demonstration projects, with a focus on the conservation, restoration, protection and/or enhancement of wetlands.

ALUS Canada is a national not-for-profit organization that supports the delivery of the ALUS program across the country. The ALUS program provides a financial incentive for producing valuable ecological services on Canadian farmland. These ecological services include clean air, clean water, flood mitigation, climate adaptation, carbon sequestration, species at risk habitat and support for our native bees and pollinators. Specifically, ALUS helps farmers and ranchers restore wetlands, reforest, plant windbreaks, install riparian buffers, manage sustainable drainage systems, create pollinator habitat and establish other ecologically beneficial projects on their properties.

What’s more, ALUS provides annual payments to ensure the ongoing stewardship of each ALUS project.

For further information on ALUS please visit their website at ALUS.ca.