June 21st, 2024

We have a better chance of water replenishment

By Letter to the Editor on July 17, 2021.

In January 2014, I visited the Hoover Dam as I had done off and on since 1983. It was built in the 1930’s and was filled to a level of 1221.40 ft above sea level – FSL (Full Storage Level) right after the construction was concluded in 1935. The lake/reservoir level is currently about 156 ft. below the FSL (1067.86 and dropping). The water held by the Hoover Dam is apportioned mostly to California, with about 20 per cent to Nevada and a small percentage to northern Mexico through the Rio Grande River below Lake Havasu. I mention these commitments as they are all licenced through outflows from the Colorado River and are available for viewing at the USBR (United States Bureau of Reclamation website). On my 2014 visit, I mentioned aside to the tour guide from USBR that “You don’t have a water supply problem in the Colorado Basin – You have a water use problem”. He brought me in front of the tour group and said “This Canadian hydrologist says that “See above”. Reading today’s online articles about the water supply problems downstream of Lake Mead, they are finally getting the point – probably about 20 years too late.
Putting the above in perspective for us in southern Alberta, we are currently in a fairly good position for water supply for irrigated crops and municipal water use for 2021 because of our water storage reservoirs. Those flows may be somewhat limited in certain municipalities that aren’t directly downstream of reservoirs. I notice today that the flow at Lethbridge is at 23 cms which is slightly above the 20 cms minimum flow requirement. That additional flow may be a part of the downstream license obligation to Medicine Hat and to Saskatchewan at the provincial border. On a note from me, if the Oldman Dam had not been built, the flow in the Oldman River might be down to the low flows during the ’80s where you could wade across the river in gumboots.
On a final note, the flows from the Continental Rockpile along the B.C. border as far north as Grande Prairie are up to 40 per cent below average and dropping. Although these flows are augmented by glacial melt and snowmelt, the snow has long since melted and the glacier outflows are already waning. Bottom line, it’s a good thing that we don’t have 40 million folks to supply fresh water to as is expected in California for all their swimming pools and golf courses, not to mention the Imperial Valley agricultural output.
Also, we probably have a better chance for a winter replenishment of snow to look forward to after October for spring refilling of our reservoirs – I hope!
Dick Allison, Hydrologist

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too few will accept that we are far too wants driven; we must get the message and be nearer to a more needs based approach to living. this will ensure we can continue to enjoy the luxuries of central heating, indoor plumbing, and enough electricity use to keep us stocked and content. truly, our expectations amount to selfish and childish in the light of the realities we now must face. the economics that depends upon and fuels our earnest and nonchalant consumerist approach will require quite some overhaul.

Les Elford

Biff, well stated and so very true. We appear to have become so me -centric, and narcissist in many ways. We want,…. no feel…. we deserve or are entitled to all luxuries, goodies the best of the best and right now, too often.
We conveniently forget; no… we have been “conditioned to forget or ignore” what you alluded to; the difference between needs and wants.

There are some who feel this concept is too heavy, doesn’t affect them and choose to ignore it. Media, advertising and consumerism has conditioned many into believing they deserve bigger, better, more, and deserve it now.

I hate to sound so preachy, but I worry what the future may bring economically for those who may have over extended themselves financially often….. innocently.

The banks have encouraged people to leverage their futures, and made it so easy, on the belief the, they are your friend and have your best interests at heart, and the good times which keep rolling, interest rates will remain low. So go ahead leverage the equity in your house which just keeps on increasing in value (until it doesn’t) Take out a HELOC or a LOC, go on a holiday, buy a new truck… you deserve it …. you need it!.

I remember when the lowest mortgage rate I could get was 13% for a 5 year term. I wonder how those with $300K, $500K, $700K will survive a bump in interest of even 1 to 2 percent? For some; that may just about double what they are already paying. Perhaps there are some who will manage. I worry that there will be many who will suffer. Rainy day …. what rainy day?

I don’t know; maybe I have it wrong and others are right spend like crazy,live the life of Reilly, get into as much debt as you possibly can while you are alive and then make sure sure you set up your estate to ensure there is nothing anyone can really take when your dead, and let the banks etc. eat it all when you are gone.

I think one solution to this may be a dramatic and significant overhaul to our outrageously complex and out dated tax system.

The credits and deductions available for the average working person are so minimal, compared to a self employed, business person, or contractual employee or commission salesperson working from home. How is it that a self employed business person can right off 50% of the cost of an electric vehicle in the first year when and average working person may get a $5000 credit or rebate?

And when the Federal government starts taking about lowering the Capital Gains Exemption and taxing the Capital gains on your principal residence. Well that just gets terrifying as we all know how effectively and efficient governments utilize your money and mine.

I’m tired of being penalized for the government’s incompetence and fiscal mismanagement. I know I went on a rant off topic abit there.

Please consider my apology. It just, we appear to be living in very strange, precarious times with no one looking out for our best interests. Yes, due diligence and buyer beware has always been there. But it seems like it is in existence now more than ever, especially within government sectors.
I fear when (not if, but when) everything hits the proverbial fan economically/financially, not only will people suffer trying to clean up their own financial circumstances, but the government’s as well. That usually means the people will be penalized, suffer more, suffer once again as governments have a historical habit of penalizing the people (ie. stealing their gold) and rewarding themselves.



great replies, les.
on your observation of the tax system – there has long been an interesting approach put forward, and well reviewed, of a point zero 5% tax on all financial transactions (.05)%, with no income tax or other added taxes. it has been shown that such a tax would rake in massive amounts that would more than fund what is required to maintain our collective needs and infrastructures. it would also pretty much abolish the massive money spent on the system to collect taxes ie the cra. the reason it is not being implemented, of course, has much to do with what you note here: it would bring fairness to the system, and “worse”, it would ensure the greediest of the greedy self serving oligarchs would pay their fair share.

Les Elford

Thank you Biff. I appreciate your support and wisdom. I agree with you on the flat tax proposal. It could/would/should work wonders. Sounds like you Buckwheat and I may be on the same page about some things which are important to speak up about. I am sure there are others who feel the same and hopefully they speak out as well. I wish change politically could happen tomorrow, but I know that is not going to happen.


Biff: we seldom agree on much but on this we do. What you are describing is how I was brought up many many years ago. These were at the time values of being “conservative”, not politically conservative, but frugal, prudent, one eye on today and the other eye on the future. (I.e. turn off the lights and don’t shower for an hour). Minor and small examples. Unfortunately, the word conservative has been bastardized from it’s original definition. Leaving the political rants out of it a wise man once said, everyone is a conservative at home and an liberal in public. That is not a shot across anyone’s bow, that is just how I see it.


thank you for the wise adage, and a smart entry (save, perhaps, on the agreeing with anything “biff” 🙂 ). cheers!, that we agree on this important concern.

Les Elford

Mr. Allison; thank you for your informative commentary. It is so important to have someone with some expertise provide commentary on such an important issue as water, Especially for those living in Southern Alberta and with some climate change affecting us all in a very real manner.

It would be great if someone with some real concrete, objective expertise and experience pertaining to the necessity of water provide an objective opinion of how any coal mining approved for the Eastern slopes of the Rockies or anywhere else in Alberta would /could have and affect on the supply of water and the health and safety of our water supply for ourselves and wildlife, flora, fauna fisheries and livestock.

Would /could that person be you or could there be someone else willing to do so. I know some experts have spoken out on this subject.

The concern is that the powers that be do not appear to be willing to listen. They appear to be driven by a different agenda which in many cases appears nothing more than self-serving and not in the best interests of all Albertans during these stressful times.

The more information which can be made available the better. I understand this next comment is more related to the very real appearance of climate change which has an impact on our water. It is very sad to see the dryland crops burning up before our eyes, across the prairies and the damage from forest fires, the more frequent tornadoes, never mind the 800 or so people who have died from heat exhaustion in BC.

Thank you for your time and attention.