Cumulative Effects Assessment of the North Saskatchewan River Watershed using ALCES 2009-2010

The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) was designated in 2005 as the Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC) for the North Saskatchewan River basin, under Water for Life: Alberta’s Strategy for Sustainability. Part of its mandate as a WPAC is to prepare an Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) for the North Saskatchewan River Basin (NSRB). This plan will include advice to the government of Alberta regarding the watershed values and trade-offs that are acceptable to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.

The North Saskatchewan River Basin is one of the largest and most populated major watersheds in Alberta. As such, it is at the core of providing valued services to Albertans. The importance of providing water for drinking and industrial purposes is understood by all, but the full range of services and values of this river go well beyond utilitarian values. The North Saskatchewan River Basin (NSRB) has historical, recreational and spiritual values, supports Alberta’s natural capital of biological diversity, and provides ecosystem services such as water purification, sewage disposal, flood control, and climate amelioration.

The value of these important services, however, can be substantially diminished through incremental, gradual encroachment of human development and related impacts on watershed function. As part of their work towards the IWMP, the NSWA desired to gain a better understanding of long-term, cumulative impacts of development on the watershed, and to highlight potential conflicts between development and sustainability. The NSWA engaged the ALCES© Group to undertake a high-level, strategic and exploratory cumulative effects modeling for the NSRB. Report can be downloaded at: