The Alberta Government announced on March 12th that they have allocated additional funds from the tabled 2024 Budget to help combat drought.

Alberta's population is on the rise, which is causing an increased demand for water.

And with the droughts and water shortages Alberta has been experiencing recently, the province is at risk of a severe drought this year. 

Because of that, they have agreed to invest over $35 million to better maximize how our water is being used and to help prevent future droughts from affecting Albertans.

"We must find new and better ways to reduce the impacts of droughts and make every drop of water count," explained Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Shulz in a media release from March 13th. "That’s why we are taking action to improve wetlands and transform how water is managed in our province. This funding would help maximize Alberta’s long-term water supply to ensure communities and businesses thrive."

Of that $35 million from Budget 2024, $23 million will be spent over three years to improve the province's water management system, as well as increasing water availability.

This money will be used in four ways to help combat drought, including water storage, water management, water conservation, and real-time data and information.

Because of this, they will invest money in water storage across the province, including investing $4.5 million to study a new Ardley Water Reservoir in the Red Deer Basin.

They will also conduct a review of the current water management and regulatory system to determine if there are other opportunities to better utilize water.

On top of that, they are continuing to modernize the province's water management information system so they can get real-time digital information from anywhere at any time.

The government has also committed to investing $8.7 million in the Wetland Replacement Program, as well as $3.5 million for the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program.

This funding will help to improve the natural drought protection within the province.

Wetlands and watersheds are able to naturally protect against drought, because they store water during the rainy times and collect spring runoff.

At times, they can maintain water levels in lakes, rivers, ponds, and more, and can even help to cool off their surround areas and maintain ecosystems.

The Wetlands Replacement Program teams up with municipalities and non-profit organizations to construct new wetlands or restore ones that were previously drained, partially drained, and partially filled in.

Since 2020, this program has received over $14 million in investments and have restored 440 hectares (1087.26 acres)

Whereas the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program provides funding for projects that reduce the intensity and effects of floods and droughts.

And since 2020, over $11 million has been invested in the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, which supplies funding for projects that will help communities withstand future flooding or drought.

They have helped to improve natural drainage, restore riverbanks, and stabilize stream banks.

"Wetland replacement and watershed restoration programs are an excellent investment in our natural infrastructure. These projects will enhance Albertans’ ability to mitigate against drought and floods while enhancing our natural environment and water quality. It’s a win-win approach," added Andre Asselin in the media release, who is the Executive Director for the Alberta Water Council.

Applications for the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program will open later this year.