The Natural Resources Conservation Board/Environmental Assessment and Review Process Joint Review Panel (NRCB/EARP Joint Review Panel or Panel) announced on February 28, 1995, the release of its Decision Report relating to the construction of the Pine Coulee Water Management Project near Stavely, Alberta proposed by Alberta Public Works, Supply and Services (PWSS). The Joint Panel announced:
- conditional approval of the proposed project in accordance with the provisions of the Alberta Natural Resources Conservation Board Act; and,
- recommendations to the federal government in accordance with the federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process (EARP) Guidelines Order.
The water management project includes the construction of a diversion weir and head pond on Willow Creek, a 3.5 kilometre canal and a multi-use, off-stream storage reservoir in Pine Coulee, six kilometres west of Highway 2 near the Town of Stavely, approximately 100 kilometres south of Calgary, Alberta.
The Panel concluded that the project was in the public interest having regard for the social and economic effects of the project, and its effects on the environment. The proposed project, through the provision of a secure and stable water supply, would remove a significant barrier affecting the social stability and well-being of the residents of the basin.
The Approval is conditional upon PWSS and the operator preparing and implementing various mitigation and enhancement plans for fish, wildlife and vegetation. A number of other conditions of the Approval related to the management of water releases from the reservoir, the monitoring and detection of salinization, the protection and further study of aboriginal and archaeological sites and artifacts, and the establishment of a perimeter road around the reservoir.
The Panel's approval was authorized by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council in accordance with the Natural Resources Conservation Board Act. The project was also approved by the Federal Minister of Transportation under the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
The completion of this review marks the first successful joint review of a project by both the Alberta Government and the Government of Canada as provided for in the Canada-Alberta Agreement for Environmental Assessment Cooperation.