With the drought of last year and subsequent water restrictions, water is a hot topic in the Boundary. The Kettle River Watershed Management Plan, which began in 2010 under the direction of project coordinator Graham Watt, is a colloborative initiative supported by a stakeholder advisory group with participation from local and provincial governments and representatives from various sectors and organizations across the Boundary.
The plan, which is now in the implementation phase, is to develop a shared understanding of watershed ideas and create a vision, goals and strategies to care for the Kettle River watershed.
Watt has accepted a position at the City of Grand Forks as an engineering consultant and will be stepping down as project manager of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan. Jessica Mace, who moved to Grand Forks a year and a half ago with her young family, will be taking over as project manager. Watt, however, will be staying on as an advisor with the project.
“Right now CommonsPlace Consulting, which is a business owned by Cavan Gates and I, has a contract with the RDKB to coordinate the implementation of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan,” said Watt. “It’s a three-year contract (2015-17) so we’re just under halfway through. Now I’ve flown the coop after taking an opportunity with the city but I still have a really strong interest in the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan and especially some of the work as it relates to city work.
“As it stands, our company needed someone to come in and take over the coordination part of it and I could still stay on a little bit as an advisor. It’ll be Jessica Mace who will be leading the work and making sure everything is ready to flow.”
Watt said he will continue to support the events already underway with the plan and connecting on some of the shared initiatives between the city and the RKDB around water conservation and protection of the aquifer.
Mace originally comes from Ontario but lived in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories for the past six past years before coming to Grand Forks with her family. Her first job was doing environmental work on the distant early warning (DEW) line sites. Most recently when living in Yellowknife, she helped clean up contaminated mine sites as a project manager working for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
“I think it’ll work well,” she said. “I can use my management skills to manage the project. We’ll hire consultants when we need to and work with partners to ensure the implementation of the plan is underway.”
With three children under six, Mace has spent her time in Grand Forks mostly as a stay-at-home mom although she has been active in the community with sports and groups such as the agricultural society where she sits on the board.
“I think the timing has been really good for looking ahead to the rest of this phase of implementation,” said Watt. “We kind of have an end goal of understanding how to have governance over the watershed. It’s a really complex task.”
Watt said the “passing of the baton” is a great chance to refocus on the big initiative to get the big tasks done around drought management, drought response and governance over the complex issue of water. He said it’s important that all the stakeholders work together for the betterment of the project.
wThe stakeholders include the RDKB, local municipalities, agricultural organizations, environmental groups, industries, and more.