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Alberta government takes action to reduce impacts of drought

North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton on Tuesday, Jan.2, 2024. Global News

The Alberta government is partnering with WaterSMART Solutions, a company that deals with complex water management issues, in an effort to mitigate the risk of severe drought this year in Alberta.

The government said that parts of the province have experienced drought and water shortages for the past three years and this year will be no different. With less snowfall this season, the province is concerned that rivers and reservoirs are below normal levels.

John Pomeroy, University of Saskatchewan professor and Canada research chair in water resources and climate change, earlier this month confirmed those fears. He called drought conditions in Alberta last year the” worst of a lifetime.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta facing water restrictions, ‘agricultural disaster’ if drought conditions persist'
Alberta facing water restrictions, ‘agricultural disaster’ if drought conditions persist

Pomeroy expressed concern over the upcoming season, and Alberta’s access to water.

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“The reservoirs are extremely low in the mountains and the irrigation districts, soil moisture reserves are depleted in the agricultural regions and groundwater is starting to drop down. So we don’t have any reserves to fall back on if this drought continues.”

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The province payed $350,000 for the contract with WaterSMART. Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz said this is a necessary step to mitigate the risk of severe drought.

Rebecca Schulz announces she will run in the UCP leadership race Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Global News

“The work we are announcing will help the province conduct advanced drought modelling and explore innovative ways to maximize Alberta’s water supply. This is all a key part of our efforts to continue our work to help conserve and manage water now and be prepared for uncertain conditions in the future,” said Schulz.

“People, industry, agriculture and the environment all depend on water for survival. This project will help ensure effective water management practices are in place by bringing together the largest water users to collaboratively determine the best solutions for managing through uncertain water conditions this year.”

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WaterSMART has experience working in the South Saskatchewan River Basin. Experts will compile data to produce modelling to help the province understand how much water will be available to use this year.

“This project will help ensure effective water management practices are in place by bringing together the largest water users to collaboratively determine the best solutions for managing through uncertain water conditions this year,” WaterSMART Solutions CEO Kim Sturgess said.

As for what’s to come for the province, Pomeroy said he expects more water restrictions across Alberta if there’s no improvement in water levels.

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