Four Major Risks Facing Water Management in Alberta

What are the top risks facing water management in Alberta? 

A new report from the Alberta Water Council identifies four major risks facing future water management in Alberta, based on months of discussion by a multi-sector working group and a survey to key water sectors and partners. The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance was pleased to represent Alberta’s Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils on the project team. The full report is available here.

The project team identified four top risks:

  • Climate: Fluctuations in water resources and hydrology caused by changes in climate. 
  • Growth: Increasing demand for limited water resources from population and economic growth. 
  • Governance and Trust: Governance that is not able to adapt to changing conditions and maintain trust in decision-making. 
  • Knowledge: The understanding of environmental, social, and economic conditions is not robust enough to make well-informed decisions. 

While each of these risks can be substantial in its own right, the greatest threat comes from the potential for these risks to occur in tandem and thus intensify impacts. 

The four major risks facing water management in Alberta in the coming years. 

The conclusion of the Alberta Water Futures report is striking, stating that Albertans must do more to prepare for changing water futures. The status quo or inaction is simply not an option if we want to ensure clean, reliable water supplies for key sectors and healthy, aquatic ecosystems. The report finishes by calling for a conversation about the next evolution of Alberta’s water management system, one that builds on past successes and the legacy of Water for Life partnerships, while scaling up efforts to proactively address risks. 

The front page of the New York Times webpage on July 20th 2021 features drought and wildfires.

After a summer filled with record temperatures, wildfire smoke, and agricultural drought here and abroad, these conversations are top of mind for many of our partners. How will Albertans rally to address the major water related challenges of the coming years? What can we do to safeguard our communities and steward healthy lands and waters? 
The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance looks forward to continuing to serve our communities in central Alberta as we grapple with these questions and find local solutions. If you’re curious about how climate change may influence the Red Deer River watershed, check out our latest video about streamflows here.