February 20th, 2019

Early water outlook predicts low water levels for region

By Collin Gallant on February 8, 2019.

An ice breakup on the South Saskatchewan River comes to a halt a Finlay Bridge earlier this winter. Alberta Environment's water outlook, released Wednesday Feb. 6, 2019, is predicting low regional water levels for the summer.

Medicine Hat News

Alberta Environment is predicting below-average water levels this summer in southern Alberta’s two main river basins that meet near Medicine Hat.

Meanwhile, authorities in Saskatchewan are warning about possible water shortages on farms related to likely low runoff this spring.

Alberta’s water supply outlook, published Wednesday, states that based on current estimates, the Bow River Basin will see average to below average levels in the March to September period. Similarly, the Oldman River basin would be below average.

Those systems join west of Bow Island to form the South Saskatchewan River.

Alberta’s other main basins, including the Milk River, are predicted to see average flows.

Alberta’s spring runoff forecast is published in late March, after late winter measurements of the snowpack in the Cypress Hills are obtained.

On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency noted that spring runoff in the southern part of that province is projected to be below normal this year, following a below-normal snowfall this winter after an already dry summer and fall.

The agency say some parts of southern Saskatchewan saw record dry conditions last summer.

Below-normal snow melt runoff is also expected in the far north.

Parts of the northern agricultural region and the southern boreal forest are the only areas where near-normal snow melt runoff is expected.

The agency says its projections may change as there still could be another eight to 10 weeks left of winter.

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