By Trevor Busch
With provincial prognosticators prepping for another potential year of drought in Alberta in 2024, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter assured residents in the riding that water for household use won’t take a backseat to the needs of industry.
“Here’s what I want to say to this issue. Number one, that anybody who needs drinking water will have drinking water, we have enough resources to be able to provide drinking water for households,” said Hunter. “Obviously, there’s people who have water rights, some have older water rights than others. And so there’s a pecking order in terms of who gets water and when, but when it comes to actual drought, or actual water shortages, the first need will be those for drinking water and for household needs, so people need to recognize that and know that.”
If current storage is further depleted and 2024 turns out to be another year of severe drought in southern Alberta, Hunter admitted water will become a major concern for the region.
“If we have just as dry a season as we did this year, then you bet we’re going to have to address some concerns with water.”
While it is prudent to plan for the worst, Hunter remains optimistic about the potential for timely precipitation in early 2024 to help refill depleted reservoirs and irrigation systems in time for the growing season.
“I’m very careful about this, because I don’t want to cause concern for people. I mean, obviously we have water shortages. And the water levels are very low in our storage throughout. And so it’s important for people to realize that, yes, it could be bad if we don’t get that snowpack in the mountains. And if we don’t get the seasonal rain – and last year, we didn’t have the snowpack and we didn’t have the seasonal rain. The snowpack was a little lower than average, but we didn’t get the seasonal rain, that was the big problem that we had. And so this year, we’re going to be watching it and keeping an eye on it. So we’re going to watch for the snowpack in the mountains, and then we’re going to look for the seasonal rain. And if you don’t get both of those, then it’s going to be a tight year, for sure. And we’re going to have to make some decisions, but those will be decisions that we make together.”