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Water Today Title January 18, 2021

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Update 2018/6/1
Water Resources


This story is brought to you in part by Proteus Waters

by Jan Rose

"ALUS Canada is delighted to announce it has received $720,000 as a new grant from Alberta Environment and Parks' Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP)," said Lara Ellis, Director of Strategic Initiatives at ALUS Canada.

We are excited to start putting this funding to good use on the ground in the Modeste subwatershed," said Ellis. "ALUS will quickly establish new natural infrastructure projects on agricultural land to mitigate flooding, increase drought resilience and improve water quality for Albertans."

Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips said in her announcement that the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP) funding is a portion of the provincial strategy to reduce flood risk by investing in lands upstream of communities to increase floodwater storage capacity.

ALUS Canada will use the money to assist farmers and ranchers to provide and maintain 650 acres of land for wetland restoration and riparian enhancement.

The WRRP grant also supports a cost-benefit analysis for the project of using nature to deliver infrastructure-related services. The watershed modelling exercise will be led by Dr.Wanhong Yang of the University of Guelph. Dr. Marian Weber of Innotech Alberta will undertake the economic analysis.

Focusing on wetlands has numerous positive benefits such as absorbing excess water. During flood seasons they act as sponges so communities downstream aren't flooded,. The better the wetland is functioning the more flooding is reduced.

"ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, is a national program helping farmers and ranchers to produce cleaner air, cleaner water, more biodiversity and other ecosystem services in their communities," said Director of Communications Bridget Wayland.

The ALUS program in Canada draws on the expertise of farmers and ranchers who volunteer to maintain the wetlands on their property. Rather than drain and get rid of them, they volunteer to protect the wetlands such as establishing a zone buffer zone around them. Depending on what the farmer wants to do, a pollinator habitat can be established or have a mix of shrubs, trees and plants to provide a wildlife habitat to support many species.

The program also provides technical expertise and support by furnishing standardized bio-monitoring methods for carbon storage, flood and erosion control and wildlife habit in addition to water purification. A monetary value is established per acre. Rates vary across Canada from depending on location.

Conservation efforts will be focused on the Modeste subwatershed of the North Saskatchewan River. The Alberta government has identified it as being a high priority for flood mitigation and water quality, and a moderate-high priority for drought.

Advisory committees for three ALUS groups in this region - in Parkland, Brazeau, and Wetaskiwin-Leduc - will help identify the best sites for flood water capture and storage. An important partner is the north Saskatchewan Watershed alliance which is helping to identify where the project should go.

Farmers and ranchers have been very receptive to ALUS, Wayland said. "There are 21 communities in five provinces. Alberta has grown quickly. There are currently more than 18,500 acres enrolled in the ALUS program, with 575 participants across the country, and the program is rapidly expanding," Wayland continued.

According to the ALUS website there are 10 communities in the province.


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