Uses for Water In Southern Alberta .
Part A: Water Consumption patterns in Southern Alberta
and Canada. There are 4 main uses for river and freshwater in Canada
and Southern Alberta. Namely they are Industry, Agriculture, Power Production,
and Municipal/Personal Use. These all have significant impacts on the economy,
leisure and livelihood of the Southern Alberta region. However, it
must be noted that fresh water though seeming infinite is often a non renewable
resource. Thus it is in our best interest to keep the water clear for future
(1) Industrial uses
(2) Irrigation (link
to Irrigation page of this site)
Most of farmers in Canada rely on natural precipitation as the source for
agricultural water supply. However irrigation is cited by Statistics Canada
as the fourth largest consumer of water in Canada.
Most of Canada's irrigation occurs in southern Alberta and parts of Southwestern
Saskatchewan to a lesser extent. In Alberta only two watersheds are used
for irrigational purposes. (a) The Oldman River and (b) The Bow River are
the most widely irrigated.
Thus it can be said that irrigation is the "life blood" to the people of
There has been nearly double the agricultural diversification of crops
in Southern Alberta, and a decrease of crop failures exceeding 75% since
the Oldman River dam has been established in Southern Alberta.
(3) Power Production
An added bonus to the regulated waters for irrigation in Alberta, is the
production of hydropower.
In the region of the Oldman river, dams like the Waterton Dam on the Belly
river, and the Oldman River Dam, on the Oldman River have a power production
ability exceeding 200 Megawatts, this may not seem like a lot of power
compared to the 6180 Megawatts of power from the Grand Coulee Dam in the
United Sates, but this is significant power for Southern Albertans, who
often have to rely on their electricity traveling great distances to reach
Though Hydroelectricity represents less then 5% of southern Alberta's
power production, though it is gaining popularity with Alberta politicians
as an inexpensive, and renewable source of Energy for the booming economy
(d) Human Consumption
One of the least and yet most concerning withdrawals of water in Canada.
A source of pure and clean water sources for Alberta's quickly becomes
a concern as agriculture, oil, and industry boom in Canada. In 1977, the
government of Alberta established the "Alberta Surface Water Quality Objectives
" to ensure that all Alberta's would have a safe drinking water source
for decades to come. According to a report established by the Canada-Alberta
Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture, they found that Alberta's farmers
were compromising the guidelines of water quality established by the Alberta
Government. This report brought special concern to the drinking water of
farming families whose water source were often to be found contaminated
or have unsafe levels of bacteria, and free ions. A major concern to Alberta's
is the hardness of water, sodium, carbonates, and nitrites ions have
affected the quality of water for Southern Alberta's.
Besides drinking water, residents withdraw water for other consumptive
reasons such as watering their lawns. This has become a concern for flooding
of residential basements.
(2) Non Consumptive Uses:
Southern Alberta's have always enjoyed the recreation
of water in this area, and abundance of it. Irrigational projects, such
as the Oldman River Dam and the Park Lake Reservior, have become the source
of entertainment for boaters, anglers, water skiers and nature enthusiasts
alike. Large scale projects such as the Oldman River Dam, have even become
somewhat of resort area where camping enthusiasts make a home for several
months of the year. On the Oldman River Dam, recreation has become a source
of economy providing jobs and increased sales for local residents of Pincher
Creek (and surrounding areas) Please take the time to visit this link and
gain some insight into the nature of man made recreation sites in southern
River Dam Link).
1. Environment Canada, http://www.ec.gc.ca/
Date of Visit: 1. October
(Use of water use diagram,
Date of Visit: 1. October 1, 1999