Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada latest drought assessment shows 70 per cent of Canada is classified as being abnormally dry or in moderate to exceptional drought,  including 81 per cent of the country’s agricultural landscape.

Alberta’s Drought Command Team will begin work with major water licence holders to strike water-sharing agreements in an effort to mitigate the risk of drought. 

The concern is that this winter, snowpack is below average, rivers are at record low levels and multiple reservoirs remain well below capacity.

There are currently 51 water shortage advisories in place in Alberta.

Agriculture and Irrigation Minister R.J. Sigurdson says drought is something our farmers and ranchers have experienced before.

"Based on that experience, our irrigators and agricultural producers have done an amazing job to manage their operations during tough times. I also want to be clear, that Alberta producers are leaders in water conservation, environmental stewardship, and I am proud of the work they do. As always, Alberta’s government is doing everything we can to help producers impacted by drought, and our producers have always stepped up to work together to build solutions that are in the interest of the entire province."

If a severe drought occurs the water-sharing agreements would see major users in the Red Deer River, Bow River and Old Man River basins use less water to help others downstream.

Currently, 25,000 organizations and businesses hold licences for 9.5 billion cubic metres of water. 

The Drought Command Team will select and prioritize negotiations with Alberta’s largest water licence holders in an effort to secure significant and timely reductions in water use.

The province notes this is the largest water-sharing negotiation to have ever taken place in Alberta’s history.