Drought

The City of Red Deer is preparing for possible drought conditions this spring and summer.

Updated February 1, 2024 

Currently, The City’s water source is at normal levels for this time of year and no immediate actions are required.   

Current conditions: 

  • The Government of Alberta is predicting a drought risk in the southern part of the province and the South Saskatchewan River basin, which includes the Red Deer River.   
  • The Government of Alberta has no concern at this time related to the Red Deer River Watershed, which is within normal reservoir levels.   
  • City staff continue to monitor the situation and will be engaged in further information sharing and relevant planning activities with the Government of Alberta and other Red Deer River key stakeholders to provide appropriate responses if needed. 
  • Alberta has stood up a Drought Command Team, and a first draft of a 2024 Drought Emergency Plan has been completed and is being refined. This includes drought modelling to help predict and maximize the province’s water supply. 
  • Starting February 1, 2024, the Drought Command Team will be bringing together major water licence holders to negotiate water sharing agreements. Water licence holders will be asked to voluntarily take less water in order to ensure that there is water available for as many users as possible. 

How we’re preparing 

Monitoring conditions 

We continue to closely monitor the conditions, including the Gennifer Reservoir and Red Deer River water levels, precipitation, and snowpack.  

Working with partners to share the available water supply  

The Government of Alberta is facilitating Water Sharing Agreements, which are voluntary agreements in which license holders co-operatively work together to share the impacts of a water shortage by deciding how to share the available water supply. We’re also coordinating with the regional water customers (NRDRWC and RD County) to align the City’s Water Conservation Guidelines with theirs and develop an implementation process. 

Preparing for outdoor water restrictions 

If we don’t get the precipitation we need, it’s possible that we will have to implement water restrictions at some point. We are currently reviewing our Water Conservation Guidelines and Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plan (CEP) and will adjust as required as it relates to water shortages and triggers.  

What you can do 

Water is a precious resource and every drop counts. Continue to seek out ways you can conserve water inside the home.  

Tips for conserving water (and managing your bill) are available on our website. The Government of Alberta also offers helps tips on how to conserve water 

Understanding drought 

Generally, Alberta relies on melting snow and precipitation for most of its water. Droughts are prolonged periods of dry weather that deplete water resources, including: 

  • natural sources (rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, groundwater) 
  • constructed storage (reservoirs and dugouts) 
  • irrigation canals 
  • soil moisture 

In the past 120 years, 5 major droughts have occurred across the Canadian Prairies. Starting in 1929 with the “Dust Bowl”, multi-year droughts also occurred in the 1980s and the early 2000s. 

Alberta is currently in water shortage management stage 4 (out of 5), where multiple water management areas are impacted by water shortage.  

Drought 1

Drought 2

For up-to-date provincial drought information, please visit: https://www.alberta.ca/drought