Having enough water in our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands is essential to sustaining healthy aquatic systems. But more than this, healthy aquatic systems ensure a sustainable, safe and secure water supply for our communities, now and into the future.
As such, it is important that we remain mindful of the limited water resources available to us, and plan our actions accordingly.
The rivers and streams of the Battle River Watershed have flows that vary considerably on an annual and seasonal basis. These flows are affected by natural long-term changes in climate and short-term seasonal weather patterns.
The flow regime of our watersheds has also been influenced by human use of water and by various land use changes and practices. Today, water is allocated and withdrawn for a variety of purposes, including municipal, industrial and agricultural uses. According to the most recent assessment of the Alberta River Flow Quantity Index, long-term flows in the Battle River (based on the 10-year index average from 2000-2009) are below the normal natural flow.
In general, peak flows for the Battle River occur during the months of April and May, corresponding with annual snow melt and spring rains. The lowest flows are observed in the fall and winter. Annual flow volumes of the Battle River may vary greatly from year to year.
Climate change may also impact our watersheds in the future. Precipitation levels at Camrose for both snow and rain showed a decline from 1971-2001. Precipitation and water quantity in the Battle River watershed are directly related; apart from groundwater supplies, our watershed is dependent on the water we receive from the sky in the form of snow or rain. As precipitation levels decrease, natural flows in the Battle River may also be expected to decrease over time.
Alberta Environment and Parks initiated this first phase of the Watershed Management Planning Process for the Battle River in 2004. The main outcome of this phase was to develop the Approved Water Management Plan for the Battle River Basin.
This plan focuses on the regulation of surface water use, which is within the Government of Alberta’s responsibility. As such, this plan did not follow the same three-report structure (background research, policy advice, and implementation guidelines) as the rest of the WMP components.
The Approved Water Management Plan for the Battle River Basin (Alberta) came into effect in 2014. Key recommendations in the plan include:
For more details on the development of this plan, see the terms of reference.