Adapting to Changing Water in Alberta (ACWA)

The Watershed Science and Modelling Laboratory conducts this research project to address issues on ‘Future Water Supply and Watershed Management’ of the Water Innovation Program in Alberta. Recently published roadmaps for the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) have only used linear forecasting of trends in historical water availability (WA), or by utilizing outputs of the global hydrologic models exclusively, with an assumption of future trends (i.e. minimal change in WA) for determination of water demand (WD) and adaptation strategies. Previous investments by Alberta Innovates (AI) now provide an explicit quantification of future WA and water scarcity (WS) at higher spatial resolution and increased confidence. This project specifically aims to examine the projected future water demand scenarios in light of recently developed water supply scenarios for Alberta.  This research will provide two key deliverables, A) advancing the knowledge of WA forecasting for Alberta under climate change and variability scenarios; and B) engaging stakeholders through a series of interactive workshops to identify imbalances in WA/WD scenarios. Bringing together future WA scenarios (as defined by the science) and future projected WD (as refined by stakeholder projection scenarios) is absolutely necessary to gain consensus to implement adaptation strategies to mitigate potential economic, environmental and social consequences.

This project seeks to leverage and integrate two large investments recently made in Alberta. The process-based hydrology and economic models emanating from the previous AI funded ‘Predicting Alberta’s Water Future (PAWF)’ project with the operational participatory based model developed by Alberta WaterSMART (AWS) and funded by AI and Climate Change and Emissions Canada (CCEMC).  These projects are completed (AWS – Jan 2016; AI-PAWF- Dec 2016) and the integration of future water supply scenarios and the future water demand scenarios is absolutely required for integrated water management and adoption to changing water in the province.