The province has launched a $125-million program that will allow municipalities and Indigenous communities to apply for funding to improve their drought and flood resilience and adapt to severe weather. According to the province, another $100 million will be available for funding over the next four years, with applications accepted each year.

The Drought and Flood Protection Program is meant to, 'help communities design and construct projects that protect critical infrastructure from drought and flooding and help ensure public safety is protected.'

Under the program, there is no minimum funding requirement for applications. A funding cap of $10 million per project is in place to ensure the program can support multiple projects each year, and all approved projects will be cost-shared, with the Government of Alberta covering up to 70 per cent of total eligible costs and the grant recipient(s) covering the remaining 30 percent.

"This could include important drought-related projects to improve water storage, upgrading open-ditch irrigation canals to reduce water loss through evaporation, or relocating water intakes to help communities access water during dry periods. It could also include flood-related projects, such as berms, flood walls and other infrastructure," the province stated.

Other projects could include the purchase of property for relocation or for access to and/or construction of a project, and bio-retention infrastructure designed to increase flood attenuation and reduce the impacts of drought.

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas said the program will help communities build the infrastructure they need to help protect people’s homes and keep businesses going during droughts or floods.

"These emergencies can devastate public infrastructure and private property, damage the environment, disrupt our economy and put lives at risk. That’s why I encourage any and all communities to apply."

Applications for what the province described as ‘shovel-ready projects' are strongly encouraged, though all projects that meet the eligibility criteria will be considered for funding.

All municipalities, Improvement Districts, Special Areas, Metis Settlements and First Nations are eligible to apply by June 6, 2024.

According to the province, Disaster Recovery Programs in Alberta have paid out more than $1.7 billion to cover uninsured losses associated with flooding since 2010. There have also been more than $5 billion in insured losses.

Currently, Alberta is gearing up for a drought season, and while there are five stages of Alberta’s drought response, the province currently sits at stage four.

"Government is now working proactively with major water users to employ all existing regulatory and non-regulatory tools available. This includes creating water shortage response plans, fast-tracking temporary diversion licenses to allow water to be temporarily diverted from new sources, and the landmark water-sharing agreements announced on April 19, along with other steps being implemented across southern Alberta," the province stated last week.

Stage five in the 2024 Drought Response Plan would mean declaring an emergency under the Water Act as a last resort. The province underlines that May and June may see the most risk when it comes to floods. 

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