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Alberta invests in flood and drought resiliency projects


July 21, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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The province of Alberta is investing nearly $1 million in flood and drought resiliency projects in Calgary and other communities to help protect against the effects of severe weather.

Calgary skylineTwelve organizations in southern Alberta “and other vulnerable communities across the province” will share $988,642 through the Watershed Resilience and Restoration Program (WRPP), Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) said in a press release.

Over three years, the provincial government has granted $18.5 million to 30 organizations, with this being the third and final round of that funding.

The grants will go towards such projects as the restoration of riparian areas, creation of wetlands, installation of rain gardens in urban locations, soil bioengineering, implementation of agricultural best management practices and the increased use of beaver structures.

“A healthy watershed is our first – and arguably best – defence against flood and drought,” AEP said in the release. “If appropriately managed, Alberta’s natural watershed systems will help mitigate severe natural events and will provide many other ecological benefits.”

Over the life of the program, WRPP grants will fund the restoration of more than 40 kilometres of riparian areas and the creation or enhancement of more than 600 hectares of wetlands. The grants will also support projects focused on education, outreach and the implementation of best management practices.

“Improving natural watersheds is an important part of our plan to help vulnerable communities like Calgary and others across the province adapt to a changing climate,” said Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, in the release. “These projects will enhance our natural environment and reduce the impact of both floods and drought.”

Peter Lee, executive director of Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council, said that the organization was able to “leverage our grant eight-fold to provide sufficient resources to repair and restore a number of key wetlands in the Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area near Drayton Valley. Our project will improve natural watershed functions along the North Saskatchewan River floodplain and valley slopes in order to build greater long-term resiliency to droughts and floods through restoration and enhancement. These initiatives will ensure the area will once again be a fully functioning watershed ecosystem.”

For Leta van Duin, executive director of the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership Society, the funding will allow the organization to work with citizens, municipalities and industry to develop and demonstrate the best ways to implement shallow, planted depressions in Alberta known as rain gardens.