What is Watershed Management?

Watershed Management

Watershed management is an adaptive, comprehensive, integrated multi-resource management planning process that seeks to balance healthy ecological, economic, and cultural/social conditions within a watershed. Watershed management serves to integrate planning for land and water; it takes into account both ground and surface water flow, recognizing and planning for the interaction of water, plants, animals and human land use found within the physical boundaries of a watershed.

Watershed management provides a framework for integrated decision-making  to help: assess the nature and status of the watershed; identify watershed issues; define and re-evaluate short and long-term objectives, actions and goals; assess benefits and costs; and implement and evaluate actions.

Adopting a watershed approach is founded on the basis that Alberta’s water resources must be managed within the capacity of individual watersheds and that all Albertans recognize there are limits to the available water supply. What happens on the land and water in a watershed can affect the water supply that rivers provide. While land and water are closely linked, these resources have not historically been managed in a fully integrated manner. Focusing efforts at the watershed level provides a comprehensive understanding of local management needs, and encourages locally led management decisions.

The Triple Benefits of a Healthy Watershed

Water is essential for our future. A healthy watershed provides the triple benefits of human, ecological and economic health. The goal of watershed management is to properly balance and manage this resource.

Ecological Health

A healthy watershed functions as a complete ecological system promoting the health of all living organisms and landscapes within the watershed. A healthy, intact watershed minimizes the impacts of flooding and erosion and serves to filter sediments and contaminants so they do not reach our streams, lakes, and groundwater.

Economic Health

An abundant supply of clean water is essential for a vibrant economy. Homes, farms, municipalities and businesses all need an ample supply of clean water to operate effectively. Clean water allows municipalities, businesses, agricultural producers, and industries to operate more cost effectively, saving money for taxpayers and consumers. Healthy rivers, lakes, wetlands and natural spaces are foundations for recreation and tourism.

Human Health

Life requires a safe daily supply of water. But water is far more than that: clean surface and ground water is essential to support our high quality of life and the social aspects of our communities. Clean rivers, lakes and streams provide many healthy recreational opportunities including swimming, boating, and fishing.

To understand your relationship with water and the ways you are connected to the health of your watershed, check out the Alberta Water Portal, Water Footprint Network, the Water Footprint Assessment Manual, and the Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society.

Graphic Source: Timm Kekeritz (http://www.virtualwater.eu)

Getting Water Wise

Profiling and highlighting innovation, collaboration, and renewal activities of Albertans working together for safe drinking water and responsibly managed wastewater - closer to home, the Getting Water Wise set of five, 2 minute PSAs can be viewed HERE

Alberta Wetlands Policy

Implementation of the Alberta Wetland Policy in the White Area of the Province is occuring in a phased manner that permits Albertans to begin preliminary application of the tools and systems enabled under the new policy, and to assess how the new policy will affect their respective activities. As of June 1st, 2015, Proponents will be expected to submit wetland-related Water Act applications in accordance with new requirements established under the Alberta Wetland Policy. This coincides with the beginning of the field season for conducting wetland field assessments. For more information, please visit  HERE.

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