Alberta Water Nexus Project Background

Introduction to the Alberta Water Nexus Project

The need to balance resource usage is a challenge faced by every community in the world.  In particular, our water resources are limited and they are being utilized by many groups including individuals, communities and industry.

To explore and understand the interconnectedness of water users in Alberta, the Alberta Water Nexus Project was launched by the Alberta WaterPortal Society. 

The Project is a first in Alberta. Starting with a pilot in the Bow River Basin, the Project aims to show how converging water use from different sectors and entities impacts water availability on a regional basis. 

We recognize that there is no clear solution a specific sector, industry, or level of government, can implement on their own.  We hope this project will reinforce that water-use decisions have multiple, potentially unpredictable impacts on other water users and the environment.

The Bow River Basin is affected by a number of converging factors making it a very interesting study area, including water resource distribution, significant agriculture industry, and that the available surface water is now fully allocated. Click here to learn more about the converging factors in the Bow River Basin.

Water management in the Bow River Basin is largely done through provincial government legislation and administered by government agencies. Because the water resources are already allocated, managing water licences to allow for new development activities is a significant challenge. Click here to learn more about water management decisions in the Bow River basin.

A stakeholder engagement workshop was held in July, 2017 to gain insight on further work needed to increase public understanding of the water Nexus in Alberta. Click here to see an outline the various activities from the workshop, a few of the creative and thoughtful ideas, and some of the key themes and outcomes.

Alberta Water Nexus Project Phases and Outcomes

The Alberta Water Nexus Project is being conducted in three phases.

Phase I

Phase I was completed in 2016 and resulted in:

  • An educational online simulator tool that explores water demand in the Bow River Basin. This tool allows the user to allocate water towards different uses, and to see the impact of dramatic population growth, and the results of water allocation on the environment. 
  • Three case studies on agricultural water use, energy water use, and municipal water use.
  • A technical report for interested readers that provides more detailed information on written content and describes the methods and math behind the simulator.

Phase I was made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Fondation Veolia, and Enbridge.

View the phase I simulation tool by clicking here.

Phase II

Phase II was completed in early 2018. It focused on improving and expanding the work done in Phase I, including:

  • Creating an animated video introducing the Water Nexus and demonstrating the interdependency of all sectors. 
  • Making the website mobile-friendly and adding several more content pages.
  • Hosting a stakeholder engagement workshop.
  • Restructuring and updating the simulator tool to ask the user more questions and provide them with meaningful, calculated results.

Phase II was made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Alberta Innovates, and an anonymous donor.

Try the phase II simulator tool for yourself to see how water is impacted by the actions of people, communities and industry! 

Phase III

Phase III will be commencing soon after the completion of Phase II and will focus on:

  • Identifying and using new avenues to make the Project appealing and accessible to even broader audiences.
  • Developing other online resources as well as activities to engage and educate the public.