The Saskatchewan River Basin (SaskRB) project
The 336,000 km2 Saskatchewan River Basin (SaskRB), located in the cold interior of Western Canada, is the major water resources for Canada’s rapidly developing prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and is drained by one of the world’s larger rivers. With one of the most extreme and variable climates in the world, the Saskatchewan River drains East from the Rocky Mountains, passing through a major (10,000 km2) inland delta before entering Lake Winnipeg where it joins the Red River before draining to Hudson Bay. Home to 80% of Canada’s agricultural production, and important natural resources, including oil, gas and potash, management concerns include:
- provision of water resources to more than three million inhabitants, including indigenous communities;
- balancing competing needs for water between different uses, such as urban growth, industrial development, agriculture and environmental flows;
- issues of water allocation between upstream and downstream users in the three prairie provinces;
- managing the risks of flood and droughts; and,
- assessing water quality impacts of discharges from major cities and intensive agricultural production.
Superimposed on these issues is the need to understand and manage uncertain water futures, including effects of growth and rapid environmental change, in a highly fragmented water governance environment.
The Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX) initiative of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) has now approved the SaskRB Project, developed by the GIWS with its national and international research partners, as an initiating Regional Hydroclimate Project (RHP), one of ten regional GEWEX projects in the world and currently the only one of its kind in North America.
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