May 22nd, 2024

Upper Oldman water levels shockingly low

By Letter to the Editor on December 1, 2021.

Alarmingly, 2021 appears likely to emerge as the hottest year in Alberta’s recorded climatological history, and the upper Oldman River, plagued by drought throughout the past year, is shockingly low. 
Unexpected gifts from heaven have injected a faint glimmer of autumn hope. Two significant rainfall events, one at the end of October, another in November, have provided a brief, schizophrenic touch of relief to the upper Oldman as it flows through the Livingstone Range at The Gap and to the Crowsnest (formerly the Middle Fork of the Old Man), but have failed to bump flows in the hungry headwaters of the Castle (formerly the South Fork of the Old Man).
The current volume of water in the Crowsnest River, while barely covering the river’s rocky bed, exceeds (according to Alberta Environment) that of the Castle River, and the flows of all the upper Oldman’s tributaries remain critically low.
Recent rainfall, while cherished and celebrated where it has occurred, has not fallen equitably throughout the Oldman’s dry, desiccated headwaters landscape.
Drought-ravaged croplands, critical winter rangelands, and Alberta’s fire-prone matchstick forests, chronically thirsty, beg for more.
Autumn flow rates in the upper Oldman River, hugging and falling beneath benchmark lows, are frightening, and climatologists predict ever-decreasing flows.
The Oldman, wounded, bleeding, and running-on-empty, cries out for help.
David McIntyre
Crowsnest Pass

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It begs the question why our governments are spending upwards of a billion dollars to expand irrigation acres substantially (and destroying more native grasslands and wetlands that hold scarce water well into the summer).

I understand that we don’t have enough water in the rivers to meet licensed needs already, let alone during drought years. And they are expanding? What world does this goverment live in?

Southern Albertan

We are also concerned re: aquifer levels dropping because of this drought. We would be concerned re: our water well going dry. Increasing development and the increasing draw on our aquifer is of concern to us.


let us understand how things work. the government needs money, increased production, provides an increased cash flow. a good decision was made. the end


Super smart, phlushie. You should be on Team Kenney.

You missed one point, however. No water; no increase in production; no increased cash flow; wasted investment (like a certain pipeline recently?). In addition, more native grasslands and wetlands lost; loss of biodiversity; lower environmental resilience. Really the end (for us, at least)


SophieR, I am not on team Kenny, but I know their thinking. Thank you for expanding my statement and showing the short sighted thinking of Team Kenny.


water? who needs wetlands, let alone clean water?! we must only be concerned about making money, and carbon tax and trade, which makes money, a very lot of money, for some very few. so long as we focus on carbon tax and trade, we can continue to have all our wants satisfied…just try and let water get in the way.
today’s conundrum: do we tax or credit carbonated water?


So true, biff. Clean water is for losers.

And, agreed, conservative market solutions like the carbon tax won’t work for complex ethical issues that involve timelines exceeding a quarterly statement or an election cycle. Something we can call ‘A Future’.


haha! well stated. thank you for sharing.

Seth Anthony


Last edited 2 years ago by Seth Anthony