EDMONTON, Alta. – Alberta’s population continues to rise, increasing the demand for water from communities and businesses. At the same time, parts of the province have experienced droughts or water shortages in recent years and are at risk of a severe drought this year. Action is needed to better share, store, conserve and manage water.

If Budget 2024 passes, the Alberta government would invest more than $35 million to help maximize how water is used and help prevent future droughts from affecting 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.

“We must find new and better ways to reduce the impacts of droughts and make every drop of water count,” said Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas. “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.”

Improving water management and conservation

As part of the $35 million, Budget 2024 includes $23 million over three years for improving the province’s water management system, increasing water availability for communities and businesses. This funding would be used to advance 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 identity 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.

More information about these initiatives will be released as projects and programs unfold.

Improving wetlands and watersheds

Wetlands and watersheds provide useful, natural protection against drought. They help store water during rains and spring runoff, and can help maintain water levels in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. They can also help cool and humidify surrounding areas and maintain healthy ecosystems.

“Wetland replacement and watershed restoration programs are an excellent investment in our natural infrastructure,” said Andre Asselin, executive director, 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 government is also investing $8.7 million for the Wetland Replacement Program and $3.5 million for the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program to improve Alberta’s natural drought protection.

The Wetlands Replacement Program helps municipalities and non-profit organizations construct or restore wetlands in Alberta. These partners work with private or public landowners to restore wetlands that were previously drained, partially drained or filled-in, and to fund construction of new wetlands in appropriate sites.

The Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program provides grants to support projects that reduce the intensity, magnitude, duration and effects of flood and drought. Previous grants have helped restore riverbanks, stabilize stream banks, improve natural drainage and support outreach and public education.

Quick facts

  • Since 2020, over $14 million has been invested into the Wetland Replacement Program, restoring 440 hectares of wetlands in partnership with eight municipalities and two non-profit organizations. This includes $4 million in landowner payments to rural Albertans participating in the program.
  • Municipalities and non-profit organizations are eligible to receive funding under the Wetland Replacement Program. Applications are accepted year-round.
  • Since 2020, over $11 million has been invested in the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program. Municipalities and non-profit organizations can apply for funding for projects that will enhance communities’ ability to withstand future flooding or droughts, and promote the ongoing stewardship and preservation of Alberta’s watersheds.
  • Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program applications for 2024-25 will open later this year.
  • Construction of the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir (SR1) is underway and is expected to be operational in 2025.
  • A feasibility study on options for the Bow River Reservoir is expected to be completed this year.
  • A feasibility study on the Eyremore Dam project is expected to begin this year.



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