The Alberta government plans to allocate over $35 million toward optimizing water usage and mitigating the impact of future droughts on communities.

"Creating a 21st-century water-management system and healthy, thriving wetlands and watersheds will provide long-term drought protection and help the economy continue to grow," the province stated.

Within the $35 million allocation, Budget 2024 earmarks $23 million over three years to enhance the province's water management system, thereby augmenting water accessibility for communities and businesses. This funding will be directed towards advancing the four pillars of the province's water strategy:

  1. Water storage: $4.5 million would be invested to study a new Ardley Water Reservoir in the Red Deer Basin. Alberta would also launch a province-wide review to determine other areas where new water storage projects would be most beneficial.
  2. Water management: The province would conduct a detailed review of the current water management and regulatory system to identify new opportunities to better utilize water.
  3. Water conservation: The province would work with water users and partners to identify new ways to improve water conservation, efficiency and productivity.
  4. Real-time data and information: The province would continue modernizing Alberta’s water management information system to allow real-time, digital information that is available anytime, anywhere.

“We must find new and better ways to reduce the impacts of droughts and make every drop of water count. That’s why we are taking action to improve wetlands and transform how water is managed in our province. This funding would help maximize Alberta’s long-term water supply to ensure communities and businesses thrive,” stated Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas.

The government is allocating $8.7 million for the Wetland Replacement Program and $3.5 million for the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program to enhance Alberta's natural defences against drought.

Through the Wetland Replacement Program, municipalities and non-profit organizations collaborate to construct or restore wetlands across Alberta. These partnerships engage with landowners to restore previously drained or filled-in wetlands and establish new ones in suitable locations.

“Wetland replacement and watershed restoration programs are an excellent investment in our natural infrastructure," stated Andre Asselin, executive director of the Alberta Water Council. "These projects will enhance Albertans’ ability to mitigate against drought and floods while enhancing our natural environment and water quality. It’s a win-win approach.”

The Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program offers grants to fund projects aimed at mitigating the impact of floods and droughts. Past initiatives supported riverbank restoration, stream bank stabilization, natural drainage improvement, and public education efforts.

At the beginning of the month, the government announced it will be investing $125 million over the next five years in Alberta’s new Drought and Flood Protection Program.

The City of Airdrie is also taking steps to be proactive in drought preparedness

"The City is working in collaboration with neighbouring municipalities to monitor the situation and develop comprehensive readiness plans for the City, local businesses and residents," a release stated.

Considering the possibility of ongoing dry conditions, the City suggests that in 2024, outdoor watering restrictions and additional conservation measures may be required.

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