About drought

Generally, Alberta relies on melting snow and precipitation for most of its water. Droughts are prolonged periods of dry weather that deplete water resources, including: 

  • natural sources (rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, groundwater) 
  • constructed storage (reservoirs and dugouts) 
  • irrigation canals 
  • soil moisture 

In the past 120 years, 5 major droughts have occurred across the Canadian Prairies. Starting in 1929 with the “Dust Bowl”, multi-year droughts also occurred in the 1980s and the early 2000s. 

Alberta is experiencing drought in many parts of the province due to a below average snowpack in winter 2022-23, which meant less runoff filling rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and below average precipitation in most areas during the spring and summer of 2023. This is contributing to water shortage in some parts of the province, especially in southern Alberta.

Alberta is currently in water shortage management stage 4 (out of 5), where multiple water management areas are impacted by water shortage.

Drought 1

For up-to-date provincial drought information, please visit: https://www.alberta.ca/drought