The NDP government is working towards protecting Alberta’s watersheds with a series of multi-year grants totaling $12M.

Officials say the announcement coincides with World Water Day, a date devoted to tackling the world’s water crisis.

The plan will see $3.2M for each of the 11 watershed councils to address health and water management issues over the next three years.

“These funds also help to advance research, education, collaboration and planning to address matters of water quality, quantity and consumptions in watersheds throughout Alberta,” said Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips.

The administrators of the province’s watershed organizations say the funding shows that the province cares about water in Alberta.

“The Alberta government is making a solid commitment to protect an essential Alberta resource. Together with the Alberta Water Council, each water planning and advisory council will leverage this investment into improvement and conservation that benefits Albertans now and into the future,” said Mark Bennett, executive director of the Bow River Basin Council.

Bennet said that water is a resource that we come into contact every day and says that it must be protected.

“It’s all around us, literally. The first thing I do in the morning is have a shower and the last thing I do is brush my teeth and in between those two episodes I touch water hundreds of times as do you. Water is, as indicated, part of our basic sanitation, health, livelihood and education. It even finds its way into our spiritual practices,” Bennet said.

The Alberta Water Council, a non-profit organization made up of government, industry and non-governmental representatives, is also receiving $750,000 a year for the next three years as part of the government announcement.

That money will allow it to work with the public, First Nations, governments, industry and conservation groups to support flood and drought- resiliency planning.

“Water issues are very complex and addressing them requires the strength of many diverse stakeholders to achieve our shared goals. Our projects typically take one to two years so this multi-year funding will allow us to take on new and exciting projects and will be able to provide sound advice to our members to address the needs of Albertans now and in the future,” said Andre Asselin, acting executive director, of the Alberta Water Council.

Phillips says the watershed councils provide advice to the government and it’s up to the government to listen to their concerns.

“The previous government put these councils in place and the situation that I inherited, I examined everything, every community-based way that I funded as a minister and I concluded that watershed councils were an incredibly important contribution to the province, if you have a government who is interested in listening and enacting best practices on water policy and we are.”