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Watershed News
October 2014

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Meet the YES Club

The YES club (Youth for Environmental Sustainability) was started at Medicine Hat High School by a group of four students. Advisers to the group, Nadine Spencer and Rhonda Hunter have always been keen environmentalists and were eager to be a part of such a valuable group.  YES club focuses on educating themselves and others about environmental issues. The group attended workshops in Banff and Kananaskis, held a retreat in Elkwater where SEAWA was a guest presenter, and recently participated in the SEAWA Shoreline Clean-up. This past spring, the YES students created a puppet show and put on presentations for several local elementary schools. The group has also been invited to attend three virtual town halls with students from all across Alberta. The group will also compose a White Paper; presented to the Government of Alberta which will summarize their learning and education results! 


The advisors are very pleased to work with young people who are passionate about the environment, and thinks our world is in good hands. 

Agriculture and Rural Development


Water supply in the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) in Alberta is naturally subject to highly variable flows. Capture and controlled release of these flows is critical in the management of the available water supply. Expanding population, economic growth and climate variability add additional challenges to managing our limited water supply.

In 2011, Irrigation Council recommended an investigation into the potential for additional storage in the SSRB to address future water security. AMEC Environment & Infrastructure conducted the study, followed up on the major conclusions in the SSRB in Alberta Water Supply Study, and explored opportunities for additional storage to improve water security in the future, while respecting inter provincial and international apportionment agreements and other legislative requirements. Potential storage sites identified in previous studies were investigated in this study.

For objective, findings and elements of the study, click here.

Director, Jennifer Nitschelm, will be presenting information on this topic at the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance October meeting. We look forward to learning more about this!
Call for Storytellers

From Street to Stream, share your urban or lake shore riparian stewardship story! You are invited to be part of digital story telling.

Please contact Cows and Fish by October 31, 2014. Phone 403-381-5538 or email

Examples of digital stories can be found here.
Do you have your facts straight about watersheds in Southern Alberta?

The Bow River watershed is large, diverse and a world class trout fishing destination! Check out their video by clicking the title below.

Water Shutdown for 2014

The last day for water for the 2014 irrigation season will be October 10, 2014.


Please be sure all of your water needs are met prior to this date!

Connect, Strengthen 
and Expand

SEAWA is gaining momentum with partners and collaborative activities. If you know of a group, business or individual who has a common interest with us, please forward this newsletter on to them!

Contact us through the website
 or visit the office at 1014 Allowance Avenue SE in Medicine Hat.





In the late 1880's, William Pearce, surveyor for the Department of the Interior, became a strong proponent of irrigation in the semi-arid regions of western Canada. The federal government feared that Pearce's views would discourage immigration to western Canada and attempted to suppress any further publicity of his opinions. However, it was a drought, not Pearce, which made people reluctant to settle in southern Alberta. There was even an emigration of settlers out of the area. In an attempt to stem the outflow, the communities of Calgary, Fort Macleod, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat began to promote William Pearce's idea of bringing irrigation to southern Alberta. 

After many attempts to initiate large-scale irrigation development, construction of the St. Mary Project (SMP) began in 1898. On September 4, 1900, the first irrigation water arrived in Lethbridge. The Lethbridge News reported: 

"There was rejoicing among the citizens 
and the small boys of Lethbridge found the flowing water a source of much delight... 

Mayor Mewburn was the first person... to plant trees on the lawns about his house and to lay pipes about his property from the irrigation trench running 

down the street." 

For more on the history of the St. Mary's Project, click here


The St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) website is full of interesting things! 


SMRID News and EventsWater Delivery statistics (2013); Crop Summary (2013); Tenders...and more!

SEAWA is proud to be a partner with SMRID and appreciates that an SMRID representative collaborates with us in meetings and on projects.

The Prairie Conservation Forum was established by the Government of Alberta in 1989 to convey Alberta's support and commitment to implementing the Prairie Conservation Action Plan (PCAP) which is a blueprint for conserving, protecting and managing native prairie and parkland species, communities and habitats, and was initiated by the World Wildlife Fund, Canada and the provincial governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to offer a prairie-wide vision for the preservation of Canada's prairies. Alberta's PCAP is prepared by a committee of PCF members that represent government and non-government organizations in Alberta.*Save the date for the PCF Annual General Meeting, on January 15th, in Brooks, Alberta.

For some stunning prairie photography, visit the PCF Photo Library.

Also of interest on the PCF website: The Changing Prairie Ecosystem; Prairie Vegetation Inventories and videos of various topics.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development 


As proud stewards of air, land, water and biodiversity, ESRD envisions leading the achievement of desired environmental outcomes and sustainable development of natural resources for Albertans.


SEAWA receives significant support through this ministry of the Government of Alberta, in the form of funding, expertise and counsel and we wanted to express our appreciation during this month of thanksgiving. We have met many wonderful people in our partnership with ESRD and anticipate that the future will bring exciting new partnerships and projects!


ESRD undertook a major project in mid August 2014: a synoptic survey for the entire Alberta portion of the South Saskatchewan River Basin (the Red Deer, Bow, Oldman and the Alberta reach of the South Saskatchewan rivers).

The aim of the survey was to understand how water quality changes under low conditions as it flows across the province.The sampling comprised tracking "parcels" of water from the respective headwaters of the Bow & Oldman (and after their confluence to make the South Saskatchewan River), and the Red Deer Rivers and following those parcels of water until the Red Deer River joins with the South Saskatchewan River. 


The Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) field monitoring team sampled ~130 sites over two weeks, around the clock, following a strict sampling schedule dictated by time-of-travel flow calculations. Wastewater treatment plants in the SSRB that continuously discharge to the mainstem rivers assisted in providing ~ 25 effluent samples, which provides important context for in-stream water samples. 

While the field portion is completed, work continues on the analysis, organization and evaluation of the collected data. Result summaries from the 2014 South Saskatchewan River Basin Synoptic Study results may be expected in the upcoming year.  

Medicine Hat Participation in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup


In total four parks and hundreds of meters of shoreline have been cleaned up in Medicine Hat, in response to the call from the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up.  

On Saturday, September 20, Kin Coulee Park was tidied by the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance, YES Club, members, volunteers and youth - just about 30 in total!.  Several weeks earlier, families involved with the  Geo-caching Group cleaned up Police Point Park in their annual Cache in and Trash out, event. On Saturday September 27, eight people ranging from 3 to 73 years cleaned up Strathcona Island and Lions Parks from the confluence of the creeks through the parks and to the Medicine Hat Public Library.

Fallen leaves made it into a hide-and-seek game for some of the smaller trash, however, the leaves didn't cover the larger items that were found close to the water's edge. For national facts and figures, click here.

Plan to participate next year with your family or your club. It's a fun way to get outside and enjoy the autumn colors, experience the beauty of our watershed and to catch a glimpse of wildlife.

Stay Tuned! Upcoming Events and Activities
Board of Director and Special meeting Thursday, October 2, 2014 at Police Point Interpretive Centre.
Family Science Olympics,October 18, 2014 , Medicine Hat High School
Technical Advisory Committee Meeting, Thursday, November 6 at Medicine Hat College.
Alberta's WPAC Summit 2014, October 21st - 23rd, Edmonton. For details click here

Open House Come & Go in December
Sunshine Home and Garden Trade Show, Feb 27 - March 1, 2015
Join the Conversation
Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions you have about SEAWA, about land and water issues in the region, or about your personal connection to the watershed.
Get in Touch
Shanna Mohns
Communication Coordinator, SEAWA