Demand for water from rivers and aquifers for consumptive use has grown greatly due to population and economic growth and changing lifestyle and dietary habits. Consequently, aquatic ecosystems, especially in semi-arid and arid regions across the world, suffer adverse environmental impacts of over-extraction. Historically, Alberta’s water allocation system has been based on the first-in-time-first-in-right (FITFIR) system, granting the preference to the licensees based on the seniority of their licenses. In recent years, scientists, policy makers, and water users have raised questions whether FITFIR will continue to be the most appropriate allocation system to manage increasing scarce water resources in Alberta. This study aims to investigate the current and proposed water allocation strategies in Alberta and their impacts on existing consumptive users, the environment, and the economy. Specifically, existing and four allocation alternatives are evaluated using a series of criteria that measure to what extend the system can achieve its multiple goals. The study employs Bow River Basin a case study and the OASIS model is employed to simulate the flow model based on the current allocation mechanism and alternative operational rules. It is concluded that comparing with existing allocation mechanism, alternative of stabilizing Kananaskis River has multiple benefits to fisheries, irrigation and recreational users, and helps to improve the reliability of supply of the entire basin. It does not, however, improve the environmental flow substantially. The addition of 60,000 acre feet of water banks drastically improve the environmental flow so does a further addition of 61,000 acre feet to spray reservoir. But it is the alternative of adding 40,000 acre feet of water bank while stabilizing Kananaskis River that provides the optimal water allocation strategy in achieving simultaneously economic and environmental goals and meeting the need of existing consumptive users.
Xu, Wei; Khoshroo, Nader; and Bjornlund, Henning, "Evaluating Alternative Water Allocation Policies Among Competing Users In Bow River Basin, Alberta, Canada" (2014). CUNY Academic Works.