By Lethbridge Herald on January 19, 2024.
Your city and my own, Calgary, have had to ask residents to conserve water. Given our current drought conditions, these restrictions may tighten up in the spring and summer.
The Town of High River, meanwhile, is watching with concern the logging in the watershed of the Highwood River, which supplies their drinking water, knowing that it will impact water flows in the summer.
On the flip side, we also know that previous logging in our high watersheds added to the flood levels that hit Southern Alberta communities in 2013.
It has been well said that healthy forests do three things with water; they slow it down, spread it out, and soak it up. We clear our forests at our peril.
On top of this we must add the extreme weather events ushered in by climate change.
As retired Alberta biologist Lorne Fitch wrote “climate change isn’t our future, it is our present. Declining river flows, persistent drought, increased temperatures, heat domes, greater evaporation and more wicked weather events signal our world has changed. This is not the end of our world but it’s time to be smarter, more conscious of the changes and better stewards of what water is available.”
The province has just awarded a $350,000 contract to the firm WaterSMART in order to assess drought conditions and craft a water plan.
Many Albertans, including some municipal staff and elected officials in southern Alberta, fear that the scope of the study will be limited to planning engineering solutions for irrigation.
Considering that this is the same provincial government which approved the Highwood logging during a drought year, the same Government which cannot bring itself to use the words “climate change” and in fact 10 months ago removed the longstanding Climate Change in Alberta page from their website (I saved it as a PDF), these fears are not unfounded.