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Alberta Establishes Water Advisory Committee to Tackle Impending Drought Crisis

Alberta’s new Water Advisory Committee will help prepare for drought and work to make every drop count in 2024, the province says.

After several dry years, Alberta’s winter snowpack is well below average, many rivers are at record low levels and multiple reservoirs remain well below capacity. El Niño is producing a warm and dry winter across Western Canada and more than 70 per cent of the country is experiencing drought conditions. Alberta is at risk of a severe drought in parts of the province this year.

The six-person advisory committee includes leaders with experience in agriculture, irrigation, Indigenous, industry, rural and urban issues. It will act as an independent sounding board to help the government support communities, farmers and ranchers, and businesses share, conserve and manage water during a potential drought. The committee will give advice directly to Alberta’s minister of environment and protected areas.

“When it comes to water, we are all in it together. This committee will provide me with ideas and perspectives from leaders across the province. They’ll share what they are hearing and seeing and help identify new or better ways to support families, farms, ranches and businesses if we face a severe drought this year,” said environment minister Rebecca Schulz.

In the coming months, the Water Advisory Committee will meet regularly to discuss and debate ideas on how best to prepare for and respond to drought, give feedback on work already underway and suggest new ways to help manage water as fairly and efficiently as possible. The members will also help identify long-term solutions to benefit future generations.

The Water Advisory Committee will include:

  • Justin Wright, MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat
  • Paul McLauchlin, reeve of Ponoka County and president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta
  • Ian Anderson, former CEO of Trans Mountain
  • Alex Ostrop, chair of the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association
  • Jack Royal, CEO of the Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council
  • Tanya Thorn, mayor of Okotoks and director, Towns South on the board of Alberta Municipalities

“I am excited to be part of this committee and to provide advice on how government can help residents of southern Alberta deal with drought this year. By working together, and listening to voices outside of government, we will make sure that everything possible is being done to prepare for drought and respond if needed,” Wright said.

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