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Taking action on drought in Alberta

Posted on December 14, 2023 by admin

Water is one of Alberta’s most precious resources. We all use it, consume it, and rely on it. 

Most of the water that Albertans use to drink, grow crops, run our businesses and sustain our environment comes from rain and melting snow. The last three years have brought droughts and water shortages in various parts of our province, including most of Southern Alberta this summer. 

The world is also experiencing El Niño, a global phenomenon occurring for the first time in seven years. It’s causing less snow and rain, along with higher temperatures, around the world this winter. Recent forecasts indicate that there is a 62 percent chance that the unusually warm and dry conditions that we have experienced could continue until June 2024. 

Alberta has five stages in its water management plan. Ranging from Stage 1, which is a minor drought to Stage 5, which is a province-wide emergency. We are currently in Stage 4. 

Our government is now preparing for the possibility of a serious drought next year. The good news is that Alberta is up to the challenge. This province has navigated droughts before and has a long, proud history of coming together during tough times. 

Officials in the department of Environment and Protected Areas have stood up a Drought Command Team and work is underway to finalize a Drought Emergency Plan. 

Meetings have been held with communities, farmers, businesses and others to prepare. Many have already taken action to implement conservation measures and adapt to reduced water levels. Our government has announced up to $165 million in federal-provincial drought relief for livestock producers. And, this summer and fall, Calgary, Medicine Hat and other communities adopted voluntary and mandatory restrictions on water use to help Alberta’s stressed river basins. 

I commend the collective actions taken so far by so many people throughout Alberta. 

Over the coming months, we will be carefully monitoring snowpack, rainfall, river levels and actual water use to develop our early warning capacity. We will use this information and scientific modelling to assess the risk of drought next year. We have launched to keep all Albertans updated as we take these steps. 

Together with our partners, we are doing everything we can to be fully prepared for whatever next year brings. An advisory panel of experts to help provide advice will be formed in the months ahead. And we are preparing for the future, looking at what long-term infrastructure is needed to help manage water supplies for future generations. 

We cannot make it rain or snow, but all of us have a role to play. Conserving water can help your community, as well as Albertans downstream from you. In the coming months, we will all have to pull together to secure our province’s water supply. It is a challenge that I am confident Albertans will meet. 

Rebecca Schulz,
Minister of Environment and  Protected Areas 

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