Alberta's Parched Prairies: Auditor General Report Highlights Urgent Need for Improved Water Management

A recent report by Alberta's Auditor General highlights critical deficiencies in the provincial government's management of surface water allocation and usage. The audit reveals the absence of water conservation objectives in most river basins and uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of existing ones. Additionally, the Department of Environment and Protected Areas lacks robust processes to monitor water pressures and assess risks, resulting in inefficient licensing and compliance monitoring. Licenses are often approved without adequate documentation, and there is insufficient monitoring of licensee compliance, leading to potential misuse of water resources. The report underscores the need for improved processes to identify, assess, and update water conservation objectives, enhance licensing and compliance monitoring, and ensure public reporting of relevant water management information.

The report stresses the importance of water conservation for sustaining Alberta's economy and supporting major sectors like agriculture and energy. With the prospect of more frequent and severe droughts, the Auditor General recommends establishing clear processes for developing and assessing water conservation objectives to ensure sustainable water supplies. Effective licensing and monitoring are essential to prevent the abuse of water resources and maintain public trust in regulatory authorities. Furthermore, the report calls for increased transparency and accountability through the public reporting of water usage and allocation data. These measures are crucial to manage Alberta's water resources sustainably and support the needs of its growing population and economy.