|The Oldman dam was constructed in 1992 in response to the many Droughts experienced by Southern Alberta farmers. Pictured here is the main spillway, just North of Pincher Creek Alberta.|
Previous to the construction of the Oldman river
dam, the amount of crops were limited to those which could go long periods
of time without very much rain. This mostly include various types of grains,
mostly wheat. But since the construction of the Oldman river dam, many
different and diverse crops have been able to be grown in Alberta with
a great amount of abundance. Southern Alberta is more particularly
known for its diversification of agriculture. Wheat grains are grown all
over Alberta, beets are grown in Taber, vegetables such as corn and peas
are grown in the province. In fact according to an expert of agriculture
Canada, the amount of diversification of major crops grown in Alberta has
diversified five fold in the past ten years, with the opportunity to grown
many other Crops. The main crops grown in southern Alberta are:
An interesting statistic to note. Irrigated lands
in Alberta account for 12% of the agricultural output even though irrigated
lands are only 5% of the total farmed land in Alberta. Thus it is easy
to see the significant advantages of water projects such as the Oldman
river dam, can do for the economics and sustainability of farmers in Southern
Alberta. More types of Crops can be grown and the yield of the crop can
be significantly increased with the storage of run off water from the headwaters
of the Oldman river!
The second major economic advantage seen by the proponents
of the Oldman river is the benefit of power production. In southern Alberta
our electricity used to be carried over large distances to be brought to
our cities and homes. Power was likely transported from British Columbia
and our major centers such as Calgary and Edmonton and was even imported
from our American neighbors to the south. The advent of the Oldman river
dam meant that Southern Albertans had a local source of power production.
With the capability of the Oldman river dam to produce power (Hydropower
link) Southern Albertans would be less susceptible to those wintertime
brown outs due to the added power source from the dam. In all the Oldman
river dam is capable of producing 25 Megawatts of power (Alberta Resource
Development). A considerable amount of power for Southern Albertan's.
Advantage #3: Recreation
The Oldman river has opened the door to a new source of recreation for the outdoor enthusiasts. This is in the form of a giant sized reservoir...
|Welcome to Oldman Dam Reservoir park. The reservoir that is usable to the recreationists is 15,000m x 3000m. That is 4.5 million meters squared. The provincial park that surrounds this area, that is 4000 acres, is the largest provincial recreation park in the province. Wind surfers, from around the world, come to take advantage of southern Alberta's warm windy weather, in fact, the park is world renowned for its wind sufing. Surrounding the reservoir is critical wildlife habitat which includes native prairie grassland, natural wetlands and close to 50 artificially created wetland areas. Nesting areas are protected during critical nesting periods. Wildlife viewing opportunities are bountiful. The fisherman has a lot of fishing opportunities on the reservoir as it is often stocked with large amounts of Rainbow, Brown Trout, and has natural pike.|
Active resistance on the Oldman River Dam came from a group of Peigan Natives, the Peigan Lonefighters Society, who in August 1990 began to divert the river using an excavator to render the multi-million dollar dam useless. The claim was simple, the government of Canada was intruding on sacred Native land, land owned by the Blackfoot Nations. According to Milton Born with a Tooth, "the Oldman River is located in Blackfoot Nation's territory, something we have always taken as being within our own domain. We all grew up by the river, and that's how the river has a personal attachment to myself and the people. So that's what drove us to do what we did on August 3, to let the people know we still had this connection to the river." Though resistance to the Oldman River Dam has been pacified in the past few years, Peigans still claim that reservior land is their own.
Another part of the controversy has to due with the environmentalists. The environmentalists call themselves, "Friends of the Oldman River Society." They formed in the early 1990's, over the environmental concerns in the construction of the large scale Oldman River Dam. They note that the construction of the Oldman River Dam required an environmental assessment impact, and this was not conducted at all, by Ralph Klein's government. An environmental assessment impact is a neccessity according to the "Navigable Waters Protection Act", where it would be determined if its construction would have any notable environmental impacts on this region. The Friends of the Oldman River strongly felt that the construction of the Oldman River Dam, would severely alter and damage local riparian biomes, wildlife habitat, and aquatic life in down stream from the dam. A environmental impact assessment was later conducted by the government, and found the dam to have no significant environmental impact; but the Friends of the Oldman River Society amongst others regard it with much suspect.