PUBLISHED: 11 August 2014

Watershed Adaptation and Resilience, Alberta Environment and Parks

The Watershed Adaptation and Resilience Branch of AEP continues on the work started with the Flood Recovery Task Force. The role of the Branch is to work with municipalities, First Nations, key stakeholders, and other branches of the Alberta Government to improve the flood and drought resiliency of our province.

Key Elements of Mitigation

The key elements guiding the approach to proper mitigation include:

What is the Watershed Adaptation and Resilience Branch doing?

The Branch has identified seven elements of mitigation that will reduce the impact of future flood events on our communities. Some of the work below is being carried out by Municipal Affairs.

Overall Watershed Management

  • Consulting with Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils, irrigation districts and other stakeholders across the province
  • Implementing the Alberta Wetland Strategy to protect and maintain wetlands
  • Long-term funding for the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program to increase the natural ability of the province’s watersheds to reduce the intensity, magnitude, duration and effects of flooding and drought through watershed mitigation measures.

Flood Modelling Prediction and Warning Systems

  • More than 500 kilometres of flood hazard mapping is currently underway
  • Accelerating mapping of new areas and high risk communities

Flood Risk Management Policies

  • Introduced a relocation program for homes in the most flood-prone areas
  • Introduced legislation to prohibit development in floodways

Water Management and Mitigation Infrastructure

  • Directed the development of comprehensive engineering reports for the Bow, Elbow, Highwood, South Saskatchewan and Sheep rivers
  • Identified the Sprinbank Off-stream Reservoir, combined with community-level mitigation upstream, as the best solution to reduce the impacts of flooding on Elbow River communities. The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir project is now under the direction of Alberta Transportation.
  • In 2016, the Alberta government reached five-year agreement with TransAlta on modified operations at Ghost Reservoir and three Kananaskis-area reservoirs for flood and drought mitigation purposes
  • Invested $104 million for priority water management infrastructure upgrades in southern Alberta
  • Established the Bow River Working Group, which delivered the Bow River Basin Water Management Report

Erosion Control

  • Invested more than $200 million in the Flood Recovery Erosion Control (FREC) program

Local Mitigation Initiatives by Municipality

  • Provided a Municipal Recovery Toolkit to help guide communities with rebuilding
  • Implementing robust emergency management plans throughout Alberta communities
  • Long-term funding for the Alberta Community Resilience Program, which supports the development of long-term resilience to flood and drought events, while supporting integrated planning and healthy functioning watersheds

Individual Mitigation Measures for Homes

  • Updated flood mitigation building codes for homes in flood fringes
  • Updated flood mitigation repair codes

Next steps

Grant approvals through the Alberta Community Resilience Program and Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program are expected to be announced in the spring.