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Water systems reflect the cumulative effects of human activities on the land since the health of waterways is influenced by, and illustrative of, the health of the lands through which they flow. A watershed is readily definable and forms an ecosystem unit that is generally understood. As well, since most management actions can be integrated using a watershed as a common planning unit, a watershed approach to multi-resource planning (and management) makes good sense.
Basic Water Facts
Alberta’s water supplies our communities, farms, and industries with water for drinking, recreation, crops, industrial processes and the generation of electricity.
- Water supports countless life forms, both in water and on land.
- Humans can only live up to four days without water.
- Alberta holds only 2.2 percent of Canada’s fresh water.
- Our water can be found in rivers, lakes, wetlands and underground.
- As our population grows and we begin to use water more and more, our water supply and quantity are put under increased strain.
- Most of the rivers in western Canada originate from glaciers in the Rocky Mountains.
- There are seven major river systems in Alberta: the Peace/Slave; Athabasca; Hay; North Saskatchewan; South Saskatchewan; Beaver and Milk.
Alberta’s Water Paradox
Most of Alberta’s water can be found in the northern half of the province, while the majority of water used is in the southern half.
Interesting Water Facts
- The average person uses 230 litres of water a day.
- A dripping faucet leaking one drop per second can amount to 25 litres per day or more than 10,000 litres per year. That’s enough water to: wash more than 65 loads of clothing, have 140 five minute showers, or wash 40 cars. (Alberta Water for Life)
- Studies have shown that our household water use could be reduced by 50 per cent without significantly changing our lifestyle (Alberta Water for Life)
- Of all fresh water not locked up in ice caps or glaciers, some 20% is in areas too remote for humans to access and of the remaining 80% about three-quarters comes at the wrong time and place - in monsoons and floods - and is not always captured for use by people. The remainder is less than 0.08 of 1% of the total water on the planet. (Environment Canada)
- Expressed another way, if all the earth’s water were stored in a 5-litre container, available fresh water would not quite fill a teaspoon. (Environment Canada)
- The interior of British Columbia and the southern Prairies hold most of the 1 million hectares (10,000 km2) of irrigated cropland in Canada, with Alberta alone accounting for 60%. (Environment Canada)