Part of Drought

Drought – Current conditions

News and updates about the current drought conditions in Alberta.

Latest updates

Many areas in Alberta are dealing with drought conditions, particularly in the southern part of the province. The Alberta government will continue to carefully monitor snowpack, precipitation, river levels and other key data to ensure drought conditions are well understood and all water users and Albertans have the information they need to be prepared. 

Alberta is currently in stage 4 (out of 5) in its water shortage management response plan. 
 

  • Status of water-sharing agreements (June 6, 2024)

    Current status of agreements as of June 6, 2024:

    • Red Deer River basin – not activated
    • Bow River basin – not activated
    • Oldman South Saskatchewan River basin – activated
    • Southern tributaries – activated

    Water-sharing agreements for the South Saskatchewan River Basin are designed to promote collaboration in real-time. Every two weeks until the end of the growing season, the water supply forecast in the 4 sub-basins where a water-sharing agreement applies will be reassessed and the agreement signatories will decide how to adjust their water use, and whether to activate the agreements.

    A summary of the most recent bi-weekly meeting of agreement signatories can be found below. For previous meeting summaries, contact [email protected].

    The next decision point for water-sharing agreement signatories will be June 20. On this day, agreement signatories will decide which agreements need to be activated and how much water will be available for use by the signatories over the next two-week period. To support these decisions, Alberta Environment and Protected Areas will provide signatories with water supply data and information. This information may also be used by other water users to inform their water conservation measures.

    The bi-weekly water supply data set includes near real-time stream flows (recorded), calculated daily naturalized flows and historical naturalized flows (naturalized refers to the expected flows in the absence of dams or other human interventions), stream flow forecasts (7 to 15 days), historical and short-term weather data, status of reservoirs and estimated instream objectives.

  • Advisories (June 13, 2024)

    As of June 13, there are 25 water shortage advisories in place for select water management areas across Alberta.

  • Water supply outlook (June 6, 2024)

    Based on monthly snowpack survey data (collected from February 1 to June 1), Alberta produces a water supply outlook that estimates the total runoff volume for 20 locations in southern and central Alberta. The water supply outlook is typically published during the second week of the month.

    The June water supply outlook is a long-term river volume forecast for the period from June through September.

    In general, there was very little change in the forecasts from last month, except the Elbow, which increased significantly, and the Kananaskis, which decreased marginally. Highlights of the June water supply outlook are below:

    • Milk River basin – Forecasts are much below average to below average. The Eastern Crossing (where the river crosses back into the United States) forecast improved somewhat due to above average precipitation in May in the mid and lower portions of the basin.
    • Oldman River basin – Forecasts are all below average. Oldman River at Brocket is slightly lower, while the St. Mary Reservoir inflow and Waterton have increased slightly.
    • Bow River basin – Forecasts are highly variable depending on which locations have retained mountain snow and which received good precipitation in May. Spray is below average and Kananaskis is much below average. Banff, Cascade and Calgary are average, while Highwood and Elbow are above average.
    • Red Deer River basin – Forecasts are average to above average. Forecasts for Dickson Dam and the Red Deer River at Red Deer have both increased.
    • North Saskatchewan River basin – Forecasts have increased from below average to average. Forecasts for Lake Abraham and Edmonton have both increased.
  • Snowpack (June 6, 2024)

    Alberta conducts mountain snowpack surveys monthly from February 1 to June 1 (the Milk River basin is also surveyed in early January). The data is published monthly in the water supply outlook.

    In addition to the monthly snowpack surveys, the Alberta River Basins web application and the Alberta Rivers app provides automated snow pillow data from 18 sites, mostly in the mountains and foothills.

    June snowpack survey results

    Of the 16 June snow surveys completed by government, 12 average or above average. Fewer sites are surveyed in June because snowpack only remains at higher elevations. These are the final snowpack surveys for the year.

    • Oldman River basin – One site surveyed (Akamina Pass 2) had no snow remaining but average for this time of year is only 25 millimetres.
    • Bow River basin – All 12 sites surveyed were within the normal range or above.
    • Red Deer River basin – Both surveys were within the normal range or above. Gable Mountain was the 4th highest in 42 years.
    • North Saskatchewan River basin – One site was surveyed (Limestone) and was the 2nd highest on record.
    • Athabasca River basin snow surveys – No locations are surveyed in June.
  • River levels (June 13, 2024)

    Alberta’s river monitoring network includes over 450 gauges that report near real-time data via the Alberta River Basins web application and the Alberta Rivers app during the open water season.

    Notable measurements as of June 13 at 9 am

    • Mary River at the international boundary – 53.4 m³/s, which is within the normal range for this time of year.
    • Waterton River near Waterton Park – 58.7 m³/s, which is within the normal range for this time of year.
    • Oldman River near Lethbridge – 21.3 m³/s, which is below the normal range for this time of year.
    • South Saskatchewan River at Medicine Hat – 71.5 m³/s, which is below the normal range for this time of year.
    • Sheep River at Okotoks – 15.6 m³/s, which is within the normal range for this time of year.
    • Bow River at Calgary – 160 m³/s, which is within the normal range for this time of year.
    • Red Deer River at Red Deer – 70.6 m³/s, which is within the normal range for this time of year.
    • North Saskatchewan River at Edmonton – 155 m³/s, which is below the normal range for this time of year.
    • Wapiti River near Grande Prairie – 128 m³/s, which is below the normal range for this time of year.
    • Peace River at Peace River – 1,044 m³/s, which is below the normal range for this time of year.
    • Athabasca River below Fort McMurray – 1,092 m³/s, which is within the normal range for this time of year.
  • Reservoir levels (June 13, 2024)

    Water levels in some southern Alberta reservoirs owned and operated by the Alberta government are well below normal for this time of year.

    • Oldman Reservoir – Current storage is 82%. Normal for this time of year is between 90% and 94%.
    • Mary Reservoir – Current storage is 79%. Normal for this time of year is between 77% and 92%.
    • Pine Coulee Reservoir – Current storage is 78%. Normal for this time of year is between 76% and 99%.
    • Waterton Reservoir – Current storage is 90%. Normal for this time of year is between 76% and 91%.
    • Gleniffer Reservoir (Dickson Dam) – Current storage is 75%. Normal for this time of year is between 63% and 77%.

    Water storage volumes in the major irrigation and hydroelectric reservoirs of the Milk, Oldman, Bow, Red Deer, North Saskatchewan, and Athabasca River basins are updated each weekday and available in the Provincial Reservoir Storage Summary.

  • Soil moisture (June 6, 2024)

    Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation produces a soil moisture report periodically during the winter months, with frequency increasing during the growing season.

Get more right on your phone

Advisories, snowpack and river conditions, reservoir data, forecast details and more are available right on your smartphone via the Alberta Rivers app.

Download for:

Photo gallery

Slideshow: Impacts of water shortage in southern Alberta

Contact

Connect with Environment and Protected Areas’ Outreach Services:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-3773 (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]