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Wright named as representative to drought advisory committee

Posted on March 28, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Trevor Busch
Southern Alberta Newspapers
editor@tabertimes.com

With speculation about continued drought conditions dominating rural discourse in southern Alberta, regional representation has been secured with the recent appointment of Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Justin Wright to the province’s new drought advisory committee.

“He’s a very capable guy. I think MLA Wright is the right person to do that,” said Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter. “He and I talk on a regular basis about what needs to be done here.”

Following repeated dry years, Alberta’s 2024 winter snowpack is below average, regional river systems have dropped to record lows, and many reservoirs are below capacity.

“It’s really preparedness. It’s about being able to prepare for a possibility of drought,” said Hunter about the mandate of the drought advisory committee. “So we have drought conditions, but we’ve talked to different organizations, there’s different levels of drought, and so we’re trying to be prepared for the possibility of a very difficult time this year. We’re still in El Nino, but that actually ends around June, July. So I think that really is the purpose of this is to be ready just in case things are dry and we need the precipitation in the spring. But I will say that things are starting to look – I get a regular update in terms of the snow pillow for the south, and yes, it is lower than the lower quartile. We still got a lot of way to go. But most of the time, we have a good March that will help make it out.”

The province is developing a water shortage plan with municipalities, reviewing water licenses, and began negotiations on Feb. 1 for the completion of water-sharing agreements for the Old Man, Bow, and Red Deer river basins.

“So I’ve had a great opportunity to chat with lots of farmers, irrigators the last couple of months, and they seem to be optimistic. And maybe that’s just farmers – they are quite optimistic folks. So I think that it’s a little too early to tell whether or not we’re going to need to address drought conditions, at this point,” said Hunter.

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