EDMONTON -- Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon is defending the province's planned coal consultations.

In response to a question at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention, Nixon says the province's freshwater management hasn't changed.

He was responding to a question from Jim Willett, mayor of Coutts, Alta., who wondered why Albertans won't be able to discuss water at the province's upcoming consultations on coal development.

The terms of reference for the consultation rule out any consideration of water or land use issues.

Willett says possible threats to water are one of the main reasons Albertans are concerned about the United Conservative government's expansion plans for the industry.

He asked Nixon if there would be another chance to air those concerns.

Nixon says Alberta's water rules remain in place and won't be changed to accommodate coal mining.