Water Supply Outlook for Alberta

August 2002

Water Supply Forecast Summary

Much-below-normal precipitation in the province during July impacted water supplies in the province. Significant precipitation is needed to improve the overall water supply outlook for Northern and Central Alberta. Most areas north of Calgary are extremely dry as a result of several consecutive months of much-below-normal precipitation. As a result, streams in the prairie region north of Calgary remain very low and are beginning to approach historical minimum values.

In Southern Alberta, however, the water supply forecast remains good as a result of record precipitation in June. The March to July recorded natural runoff volumes are near the highest on record in the Oldman and Milk River basins as a result of a very wet spring and early summer. Areas north of Calgary, which has not received significant precipitation in the past few months, remain very dry with prairie streams beginning to approach historical minimums.

Much-above-average natural runoff volumes as of August 1, 2002 are forecast for the Oldman and Milk River basins for the forecast period (March to September 2002 period) (Table 1) and for the remaining portion of the season (August to September). Natural runoff volumes are forecast to be above-average for the Elbow and Highwood Rivers, average for the Bow River basin, below-average in the North Saskatchewan River basin and much-below-average for the Red Deer River basin.
August 1 volume forecasts varied as a result of precipitation recorded in July. Forecast volumes decreased substantially in the Red Deer and North Saskatchewan River basins due to several months of below-normal precipitation. Current forecasted runoff for this year remains higher than recorded runoff last year in most areas of the province.

These forecasts assume that precipitation over the summer period will be normal. Precipitation will have a major impact on the summer water supply forecast between now and the end of September. Streamflow volume forecasts will be updated monthly until mid-summer. Check our Forecaster's Comments throughout the month for updated information regarding runoff conditions.

For technical enquires about this web page please contact Alberta Environment - Environmental Management Water Management Operations Branch at AENV-WebWS@gov.ab.ca