On December 14, 2006, the Board received a revised Diversion Plan for the Highwood River, submitted by Alberta Environment and Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation. The submission includes Highwood River Public Advisory Committee's (PAC) report and recommendations, along with Alberta Environment's response to PAC’s report and recommendations, and the Diversion Plan.
The revised Diversion Plan is filed in relation to Board Order 9601-1; an order made by the NRCB/CEAA Joint Review Panel in May 1998. Board Order 9601-1 formed part of the Joint Review Panel’s decision following its consideration of Application #9601. Application #9601 asked the Joint Review Panel to consider a proposal to construct a water management project to convey and store water diverted from the Highwood River.
When the Joint Review Panel issued its decision in 1998, it approved the development of the diversion canal to Clear Lake, the enlargement of the diversion canal to the Little Bow River and the construction of the reservoir on the Little Bow. However, the Panel deferred decision on two aspects of the project, pending the submission of further information and following additional public consultation. Specifically, the Panel deferred its decision on the low flow component of the diversion plan for the expanded diversion works on the Highwood River, and expansion of storage at Women’s Coulee or a comparable site.
The December 14, 2006 submission provides a revised Diversion Plan following extensive consultation. Notably, the submitted plan does not incorporate additional water storage, as the PAC concluded the benefits of additional storage would not offset economic and environmental costs.
The NRCB issued public notice of the application on June 27, 2007. The Panel proceeded with a written review rather than a public hearing, as no objections to the application were filed. On April 14, 2008, the Board issued its decision report (decision and news release links below).