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Four water deals for southern Alberta basins await licence holders’ OK

Posted on 16 April 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

Alberta Newspaper Group

Four initial agreements on water sharing within southern Alberta river basins are complete and before water licence holders to endorse, the Medicine Hat News has learned.

This winter the Ministry of Environment called on large water users to help prepare for the potential of another year of drought conditions following a dry winter.

Talks toward voluntary reductions in water allowances were begun in February with an expected agreement in place by the end of March.

Correspondence from Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz tells stakeholders that memorandums of understanding cover the Bow, Red Deer, Oldman and upper tributaries of the Oldman river systems are now ready for final approval.

That should be completed by April 18, with deals to be outlined for the public shortly thereafter.

Talks included licence holders covering 90 per cent of water rights licence holders, the letter states, and the deals represent the largest agreement of its kind since a famously dry year of 2001.

In January, Schulz asked large licence holders, like irrigation districts, industry and municipalities, to consider plans to reduce water use as much as possible, potentially foregoing portions of allocation to allow more water for others.

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