State of the Watershed Reports and Watershed Management Plans

State of the Watershed reports provide a basis for governments, decision-makers, industry and the community to act in the long-term interest of environmental sustainability.  The report uses indicators to assess the current health of a watershed, provide information about human activities that impact the environment within watersheds, and evaluate the effectiveness of past and current management activities.  All of this information is presented in an easy-to-understand report card format.

Within a watershed, information is gathered on a variety of topics, which will then be evaluated and combined to produce a report card that outlines the overall health of the watershed.  The most frequently used indicators centre on the following issues:

  • Water quality;
  • Water quantity and flows – surface and groundwater;
  • Vegetation – riparian and wetland areas;
  • Aquatic life;
  • Soils;
  • Climate;
  • Infrastructure – dams, control structures, treatment plants, and transportation corridors;
  • Land cover and use;
  • Population demographics; and
  • Water use and allocation.
State of the Watershed reporting is a critical step in completing a Watershed Management Plan.  A Watershed Management Plan is a site‐specific, comprehensive tool that watershed groups, municipalities and other entities can use to achieve their stewardship goals.  An approved Watershed Management Plan is used by government and other resource decision makers as a reference when making decisions that impact water within that watershed.  As the regulator, Alberta Environment is responsible for approving Watershed Management Plans in Alberta.  Alberta Environment will approve a Watershed Management Plan if the proponent adequately presents:
  • A summary of the issues considered;
  • A description of the area in which the Watershed Management Plan applies;
  • A summary of the information assembled as part of the planning process;
  • The relationship of the Watershed Management Plan to regional strategies or other planning initiatives;
  • The inclusion of public and stakeholder consultation;
  • The recommended options and strategies to address the issues; and
  • A list of performance monitoring requirements.
A Watershed Management Plan will help Alberta Environment make water resource decisions in a specific planning area under the Water Act and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA).  The resulting plan will also assist the local municipality, e.g., County or Municipal District, local watershed stewardship group(s), stakeholders, and resource managers to make informed water management and land use decisions, and it will provide information to the public.  The Guide to Watershed Management Planning in Alberta is used to guide the plan.  Water management issues in the watershed are identified through a consultative process.

I have senior-authored or co-authored several State of the Watershed reports and Watershed Management Plans.  Please access the Library page for details on these and other reports.