It was a packed board room at the Stettler County office last week as people gathered from all over the Battle River watershed area for a meeting regarding the waterway.
The Battle River Watershed Alliance (BRWA) concerns itself with the preservation and improvement of the Battle River and its tributaries, working to ensure a clean river that can be used both recreationally, personally and commercially in a safe and enjoyable manner.
This year, the BRWA used a dotmocracy to determine the major interests of its memberships for the coming year. A dotmocracy allows people a certain number of anonymous votes, determined by the use of dot-stickers, in a number of topics. In this case, each attendee of the AGM was able to place three dots on a number of topics, including but not limited to invasive species, wetlands, recreation, pollution and more.
Wetlands were the BRWA members’ first priority, collecting the most dots. Wetlands act as “ fiters” for waterways, trapping and filtering out pollutants from the river, while providing lush habitats for wildlife.
Surface water quality was the next topic chosen by the membership, and refers to the quality of water on the ground, usually delivered by rain. The water often filters across the land and ends up in ponds and sloughs, and can take pollutants and nutrients off the land to where it ends up.
Land use practices came in third and is a topic that neatly ties into the second.
Good land use practices help keep the ground surface clean and free of chemicals, pollutants and extra nutrients, which in turn helps surface water quality and prevents excess gathering of pollutants in wetlands.
Of interest also was protected areas, and their maintenance, these areas are breeding grounds or are in vulnerable states, and thus are protected so they are not damaged by people, businesses or pollutants.
Rounding out the top five was native and non-native species and invasive species, a topic that is close to the heart of many Battle River aficionados since species like purple loosestrife have caused extensive damage in waterways across Canada since its introduction in the late 80s and early 90s. The pretty, bright purple plant is native to Europe and particularly likes wet, marshy land. It spreads quickly and easily and crowds out natural vegetation.
The BRWA has roughly 1,100 members, though there is no membership fee or card so the number is essentially determined by how many people are on its mailing list. The number of people who are actively involved, attending meetings and taking part in events, is less than that but still a healthy several hundred, it was explained.
The membership voted against membership fees due to the increased administration cost that would go into collecting fees and issuing membership cards.
The board also filled several vacancies on its board, created by people retiring from positions, being elected into different positions, or mandated end-of-term.