This report employed extensive modelling to gain a comprehensive understanding of the flood and drought characteristics of the SSRB. Modelling was conducted primarily by HydroLogics Incorporated and was undertaken firstly at the sub-basin scale before being applied to the entire SSRB. The proprietary software called OASIS (Operational Analysis and Simulation of Integrated Systems) utilized historical data spanning 81 years while also incorporating future demand predictions and climate change forecasting. Ultimately, millions of simulated hours of river basin dynamics data was created which provided insight as to the function of the system under various scenarios. The basin-wide model – The South Saskatchewan River Operational Model (SSROM) – allowed for a broad understanding of the system, however, stakeholders raised a number of concerns regarding modelling at this ‘screening level’ phase. Among these criticisms were that models were not yet detailed enough to meaningfully address factors such as engineering and economic considerations, environmental factors or risk assessments. Further, variation in the performance measures used for each sub-basin operational model could add difficulty to comparability should the SSROM be insufficient. The report anticipates an increase in future water demand which could exacerbate drought concerns. Data also shows that future flooding and drought events could be more severe than at present.
In 2016 a final report – Adaptation Roadmap for Sustainable Water Management in the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) – was published by WaterSMART Solutions in collaboration with the Government of Alberta in order to address flooding and drought related concerns in and around the SSRB. The report built upon previous smaller-scale modelling completed in particular sub-basins in the SSRB which were also geared toward increasing resilience and more effectively adapting to climate change. Comprehensive work on the entirety of the SSRB was spurred by a fatal flooding event in the region in 2013 which also caused substantial damage to local built form. The report outlines a number of mostly organizational and operational changes that could be made in order to mitigate the risks of future storm events and precipitation unpredictability. Option formulation involved various relevant stakeholders including water managers as well as water users. The aforementioned potential changes to operational or organizational practices are organized firstly along a timeline in order to display which options could be implemented immediately as well as which would first require substantial time and investment. Next, options were ranked based on their degree of promise. Many of the options presented look to strengthen existing agreements and operations including water shortage-sharing in irrigation districts.Read the Full Story