Below-average snowfall in southern Alberta not helping drought conditions: experts

Despite the recent snow dump in Southern Alberta, experts warn it’s unlikely to improve drought conditions in the region. Henna Saeed reports.

Despite the recent snow dump in Southern Alberta, experts warn it’s unlikely to improve drought conditions in the region.

Nicole Newton, manager of natural environment and adaptation with the City of Calgary, says the city, for the most part, receives most of its snow in May, so it’s still too early to say.

“We would describe it as the snowpack is still quite young. But the conditions are indicating that we will have a low snowpack, which means a lower water supply for all the users in the basin,” she told CityNews.

“So the city is taking steps to prepare for a potential water shortage in conjunction with our regional partners in the province.”



The Canada Research Chair of Integrated Knowledge, Engineering and Sustainable Communities, Kerry Black, says after a dry summer in Alberta, the snow this winter has also been below average and having winter water restrictions just shows how bad of a situation it is.

“So, winter water restrictions certainly mean that we’re going to face summer water restrictions and the cost of feed for many of not just … the crops that we’re looking at the cattle farms that dominate parts of Alberta. Those are also impacted dramatically by the lack of snow and the lack of water,” she said.

“So we’re looking at a summer that is not just going to be difficult for irrigation districts and agricultural areas, but also people in the communities that live all across Alberta that are going to face some significant water shortfalls as we move forward into the summer.”

Meanwhile, Kim Sturgess with WaterSMART Solutions says the way Albertans took responsibility for their power usage during the grid alert last week is inspiring and the same attitude should be applied to water conservation.

“Like the farmers they’re doing, you know, thinking about crop mix and how many acres and crop rotations and the things that they can control,” she said.

“So everyone thinking about what they can do and taking responsibility and thinking about what their contribution can be, I think is extremely important.”

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