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Watershed News
June 2015

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Meet Audrey Goodwin

Audrey has been involved with SEAWA since its inception in 2007. She served on the Board as a Government of Alberta (GOA) representative from 2008 - 2012 (with a one year parental leave in 2010). Audrey remains with SEAWA as a member of the Integrated Watershed Management Planning (IWMP) committee and recently presented to the Board about the history of WPACs in Alberta. Audrey started with the GOA in 2006 working on Alberta's Water for Life Strategy. Water for Life was released in 2003 with the recognition that Alberta is facing significant pressures on its water resources and that it is vital to involve Albertans in managing this renewable but finite resource.  Water for Life set out three goals and three key directions necessary to fulfill these goals. Audrey initially worked on the six elements of the strategy at a regional level until focusing on Partnerships (one of the key directions) - "Working with WPACs (Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils) has been one of the most rewarding learning opportunities of my career," she says. Currently, Audrey is working as part of a team from Alberta Environment and Parks on implementation of the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. She lives in Medicine Hat and is the proud mother of two lovely young girls.

NDP ~ New Leaders

Source: Edmonton Journal

Shannon Phillips is the Minister of Environment and Parks, (as well as the Minister for the newly created portfolio responsible for the status of women). Shannon, 39, hails from Lethbridge

and has experience as a journalist, consultant and an economic policy analyst for the Alberta Federation of Labour. 

For a complete listing on ministers, visit this article in the Edmonton Journal.

Manure Management Conference Report 

The January 19, 2015 proceedings at the conference in Lethbridge, are provided in this summary report.
Topics include:
Manure management, Influence of Feedlot Manure Type and Bedding Application, Application Equipment, Managing Field Compaction, the Alberta Phosphorus Watershed Project, Manure Storage and more!
Invasive Mussels 

 Alberta introduced tough new legislation last month requiring mandatory boat inspections - a ramping up of the effort to keep zebra and quagga mussels out of the province.

But officials admit that what's really needed is public buy-in - and a little luck - to keep these devastating waterway invaders at bay. Alberta Farmer Express reports here.

Provincial inspectors intercepted a boat carrying invasive mussels at Sylvan Lake over the long weekend. Provincial inspectors intercepted a boat carrying invasive mussels at Sylvan Lake over the long weekend. Read the full article in the Edmonton Journal.


Alberta Farm Fresh

Producers Association


"Bringing fresh, healthy, local food and farm experiences to Alberta
communities by connecting local farms and local people."
 By choosing to eat local you are conserving energy, helping to keep your local farmer in business and helping to preserve the natural landscapes in Alberta! This website
is your guide to local food in Alberta.

You will find Alberta strawberries, raspberries, saskatoon berries, currants, cherries and other varieties of fruit growers by clicking a fruit icon on the site.

Medicine Hat Communities in Bloom 

Communities in Bloom, a volunteer committee works closely with a broad cross section of the community to showcase the beauty and spirit of our city. The 2015 Flower of the Year is the coleus! For tips on growing coleus visit  this blog.

 Moisture Situation Update 

Source: SARDA (Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association)

Since the beginning of April, many areas across the province have been experiencing dry conditions.  Large parts of east-central Alberta have received less than 10 mm of precipitation since April 1st.   For both these areas, normal accumulations range between 40 to 50 mm.  As such, these deficits could easily be recovered in a one moderately sized rain event.


Soil moisture reserves are highly variable across the province, however, it is still early in the season with June and July, on average, being the wettest months of the year.  Well timed, near normal precipitation accumulations are needed in these areas soon. 

Precipitation Received Since the Start of the Growing season (April 1, to May 17, 2015) - see map

Soil Moisture Reserves Relative to Long Term Normal 
(As of May 17, 2015 ) - see map   

Despite a dry start to the growing season, many parts of east central Alberta are still estimated to have near normal soil moisture reserves.  This is largely due to relatively wet weather which started in late June of last year and persisted until the start of November.  

For a map of the average growing season precipitation patterns in Alberta, click here. It's important to realize that weather over the past several weeks is not a good predictor of weather over the next several weeks. Alberta's long term meteorological record is replete with episodes of extreme dry, ending abruptly, and giving way to a return to at least near normal precipitation patterns.  At this point, it's very much a wait and see scenario.

Near-real-time hourly station data can be viewed or downloaded at

Alberta is divided into seven major river basins or major river systems, namely the Peace, Athabasca, Hay, North Saskatchewan, South Saskatchewan, Beaver and Milk river basins. For information, advisories and monitoring reports visit this Environment and Sustainable Resource Development site. You will be able to select a Water Basin, then select the type information you want to see.

Modest snowpack in the Rockies could spell trouble this year for southern Alberta farmers, a water scientist says. (CBC)

Warm, dry winter could mean water woes 
for Alberta farmers
Source: CBC News, Calgary

Smaller than normal snowpack in Rockies could make water scarce. A warmer, drier winter means farmers can start seeding earlier this year, but a prominent Alberta water expert warns there could be a longer-term downside.

There is a smaller than usual snowpack in the Rocky Mountains and it has already started melting, says Bob Sandford, a fellow of the Biogeoscience Institute at the University of Calgary who chairs the United Nations "Water for Life" initiative.

"So that snowpack will probably lead to peak run off earlier than usual, which could lead to a much longer, drier summer if precipitation doesn't follow," he said.

Cam Schmitt says the soil is near perfect on his fields south of Lethbridge near the U.S. border - good enough to be firing up his seeder this week.

"We're having a good start," he said.

But Schmitt worries that could change down the road.

"We get our forecasts out of Great Falls, Montana and when they're at 65 F in January and February it makes me think that we could have a fairly dry one coming," he said.

A spokesman for the local irrigation district says while the smaller snowpack has officials being cautious, the reservoirs are quite full from last year.

"However, the concern will be if we have a long, hot, dry summer, and use of a lot of irrigation water that pulls the reservoirs way down, and then go into another winter where the snow is really below normal, then for 2016 we will be concerned,"

he said.


Tips for Rural Emergencies

Source: Rural Emergency Plan

Any rural landowner who has had a fire or hazardous material spill will tell you that often the key to prevent an emergency from turning into a personal or environmental safety disaster is response time. Speed, clear thinking and planning are critical.

The Rural Emergency Plan (REP) has been designed with this in mind. A new tool created by farmers and those on the front lines of emergency response, the REP is a personalized, easy-to-use tool for rural landowners to prepare for personal and environmental safety emergencies on their farms, ranches or acreages. It's also a way to let emergency responders know critically important information about rural properties so they can respond to emergencies quickly, effectively and safely.


Click here to visit the website and download the plan.


The Northern Leopard Frog

Source: City of Medicine Hat, What's New


The ponds, creeks and rivers in and around Medicine Hat are home to healthy populations of Northern Leopard Frogs. These populations are vulnerable to human disturbance and since the 1970's have declined throughout many parts of Alberta.

Interpretive signs are being installed around Strathcona Island Park pond to help people recognize the frog and understand the importance of preserving the habitat and this species.

For the full article, follow this link.

Groundwater, graphic courtesy of ESRD -
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development 


Groundwater Guide

Tips and resources to help you protect your groundwater

Source: Canadian Geographic


What we do on land, in our cities and in our waterways affects Canada's watersheds. Act now to protect our water heritage for future generations.  Visit this interactive guide, select your local watershed and explore the possibilities!


It may be hard to believe for the average person who spends the majority of his or her life above ground, but Canada has more water underground than it does on the surface. This massive subterranean water supply collects in aquifers and often makes its way to the surface by forming into a spring or flowing into a river or lake, sometimes traveling hundreds of kilometres underground to get there. About one in four Canadians rely on groundwater for their water needs, including the entire province of Prince Edward Island.


It can be easy to contaminate groundwater, but extremely difficult to reverse the contamination. The number of known contaminated aquifers in Canada is expected to rise in coming decades as more contaminated groundwater is discharged into lakes and rivers. Once contaminated, an aquifer may be spoiled for decades.


How to Protect Your Groundwater 

There are two main pillars of groundwater protection: keeping it safe from contamination and not overusing the supply. Here are ten tips from The Groundwater Foundation on how to do just that.


Events and News in our Area 


Spectrum Festival (25th Anniversary!) is a community based festival that celebrates the beginning of sunshine and summertime in the city of Medicine Hat. There will be live music, entertainment, great food, and fun for all ages on June 5,6,7


World Professional Chuckwagon Races -will be held June 11, 12, 13 & 14, 2015
Check the site for start times and admission fees.

Medicine Hat Jazzfest, June 21-28, 2015
Town of Bow Island Community Calendar.
Cypress County 
Link to calendar and news. 
Article in the Medicine Hat News: 'A shortage of water licences is beginning to have an adverse effect on development in Cypress County.'
County of 40 Mile 
For news, maps, road information and more,visit the website.

SMRID Public Notice 

'Additional Aquatic Weed Control Treatments'

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! 

Upcoming SEAWA Events and Activities
  • Board of Directors meet June 25
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.
Shanna Mawer