Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Priority Mapping

Fiera Biological Consulting was retained in partnership with Summit Environmental Consultants/Associated Engineering, to identify sub-watersheds in the province that were considered high priority to receive funding through the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP). Watershed priority was assessed using three criteria: flood, drought, and water quality. The objective of the analysis was to identify areas at high risk from flood, drought, or water quality concerns. Once identified watersheds at high risk were used to direct program funding that will result in improvements to watershed resiliency, thereby reducing the severity and frequency of flooding and drought, and improving overall water quality.

Fiera Biological was directly responsible for leading the development of a criteria and indicator framework to quantify flood, drought, and water quality risk within the province of Alberta. A suite of comprehensive, repeatable, objective, and hydrologically relevant indicators were developed for each of the three priorities. Over 40 indicators were selected to represent flood, drought, and water quality risk in the province. Once indicators were selected, Fiera personnel were responsible for collating and managing datasets from multiple agencies including AESRD, Alberta Energy Regulator, Global Land Ice Monitoring from Space (GLIMS), and the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI). In addition, freely available data was compiled from online portals and through searching freely available online databases (e.g., ClimateWNA). Once all data was collected and collated, it was managed, processed, and used in a GIS analysis to quantify flood, drought and water quality priorities for each HUC6 watershed within the Province of Alberta. The data processing required complex spatial analysis and the aggregation of multiple data sources. In addition to the processing and modeling of all spatial data, Fiera personnel were responsible for ensuring the final data products met the data standards set out by the GOA.

The successful completion of this project required extensive information management, in addition to GIS analysis and modeling. Furthermore, the deep knowledge and understanding of hydrological systems held by our team allowed for the development of robust, meaningful, appropriate, and relevant criteria and indicators. Engagement with stakeholders also ensured that the indicators, and the resulting priority maps, were reflective of the needs and views of stakeholders.

Alberta Government - Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD)

Project Duration
September 2014 to January 2015