If we are serious about aquatic ecosystem health in the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) we have to really start talking about two things; irrigation and growth. The South Saskatchewan River Basin in Alberta Water Supply Study (the Supply Study) outlines various scenarios of growth in the irrigation sector while acknowledging that “environmental flows” will continue to be undermined. The “environmental flows” are embodied by the “water conservation objective” or WCO set for the SSRB at 45% of the mean flow (or 10% above preexisting instream objectives, whichever is greater) and reflect a negotiated rather than a scientifically based amount for the protection of the aquatic environment.
The Supply Study outlines that, in the all scenarios modeled, the WCO will be undermined in most reaches of the SSRB (See at Table 5- A1 and 5-B1 of the consultant’s main report. Table 5-A1 from the report is reproduced below.)
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