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Renewal, Recruitment and Retention Strategy Targets Alberta’s Rural Water and Wastewater Capacity

Edmonton, AB – Rural Alberta Development Fund Board of Directors approved $2.4 million in funding towards a $3.25 million province-wide succession, training and community capacity initiative to attract and retain qualified water and wastewater operators. Lead by the Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association (AWWOA) and a consortia of province-wide partners, the Closer to Home – Smaller Centres Water and Wastewater Capacity Renewal Initiative will address the need for innovation and community-based solutions, driven by the high retirement-related turnover of skilled water and wastewater operations personnel.

“The Closer to Home project not only supports the Government’s Water for Life – Action Plan, but will support the sustainability of rural communities,” said the Honourable Evan Berger, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. “This project will create long-term operational capacity to ensure quality water supplies in our rural communities.”

Through an education, engagement and empowerment strategy, Closer to Home will help rural communities attract and educate qualified candidates as operators up to an initial Level One certification standard, providing rural communities with the competency to operate rural systems to regulated requirements. Building on recruitment at a local level, this project will enable rural communities to create, share and grow a pool of knowledge and skills to support their sustainable water and wastewater utilities, including small private systems such as wells, dugouts and septic systems. The project’s comprehensive framework focuses on succession planning, recruitment, retention, training, mentoring, outreach support, ongoing competency development and community education.

“Regardless of size, every community will have equal opportunity to train its operators and local officials, building a strong foundation for a sustainable provincial approach for water and wastewater operations throughout Alberta,” said Marie Logan, Chair of the Board of Directors, Rural Alberta Development Fund. “Communities will have continued confidence in their water supply, sustained public health and steward responsible environmental practices, resulting in increased community capacity and quality of life.”

With AWWOA taking the lead on this project, partnerships have been formed with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, the Government of Alberta, First Nations technical services, local governments and post-secondary institutions. Working together, these partners will deliver regulatory compliance, policy development, training, mentorship and community engagement.

Funding from the Rural Alberta Development Fund will go towards developing the capacity-building program which includes hiring program staff, developing and implementing outreach education, training supports, developing a toolkit for managed succession and mentor development and developing coordinated approaches to engaging Alberta’s Comprehensive Community Institutions within the Campus Alberta policy framework. The project is slated for completion in December 2013.

Rural Alberta Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. In 2007, it was capitalized with $100 million by the Government of Alberta as part of its Rural Development Strategy. So far, $90.1 million has been committed to 78 projects. Applications are now being accepted for the remaining funds, which must be committed by March 31, 2012. The deadline for Expressions of Interest is November 23, 2011.


For more information, contact:

Gitte Sorensen
Communications & Program Coordinator
Rural Alberta Development Fund
780.436.9585 office
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

John Voyer
Executive Director
Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)