January 12, 2018 Update: Snow pack for the southern tributaries is near normal with Flattop at the lower quartile (75-90% of normal), and Many Glacier (the higher elevation snow pillow), well above the upper quartile (> 125%). Akamina snow pillow was destroyed in the 2017 Kenow fire. Reservoirs in the headwaters are well below normal due to near record high 2017 demand and very low 2017 watershed yield. Normal to above-normal snow pack in late winter to early spring, when we typically get the majority of our snow pack, will allow refill of these, for the most part. As a timely exercise, Alberta Environment and Parks has hired a consultant to conduct meetings with water license holders to provide awareness of the current water supply status, discuss approaches to reduce demand, and gather feedback. The partners of the St. Mary Project (SMRID, TID, RID), will be reviewing options and participating in the discussions.
The extensive fire impacts in the Waterton headwaters will likely result in earlier snowmelt and runoff to Waterton Reservoir. Typical watershed yield is sufficient to fill Waterton Reservoir 3 times. TID continues to advocate for the earliest possible start-up of the Waterton to St. Mary canal. This will maximize the volume of water captured by sending it to the much larger St. Mary Reservoir. Either this flow goes to storage at St. Mary Reservoir, or this is spilled to the Waterton River.
You may have noticed that Taber Reservoir is low this year. TID is rehabilitating the erosion protection on the Taber East Dam, and also completing water quality improvement projects at the Big Bend main canal and Lateral M canal headgates. Horsefly Reservoir was filled above normal winter levels last fall, with this water to be transferred to refill Taber Reservoir prior to 2018 startup.
Alberta Environment and Parks publishes data on Alberta's River Basins. Their website can be found by following the link below:
The St. Mary Project, including TID, is within the Oldman River Basin. We receive our water from the Waterton, St. Mary and Belly Rivers. Snow pillows are tracked to provide an indication of the water available in our natural "mountain reservoirs". Akamina snow pillow is in the Waterton River headwaters, Flat Top Mt. is in the Waterton and Belly River headwaters and Many Glacier Mt is in the St. Mary headwaters.
Links to the Water Supply Outlook, Water Management Reports and various other Maps and Data Summaries are also available from this site.
This information is summarized for us and provided weekly from Water Management Operations (part of AESRD) to assist us in managing our water supply. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) provides a summary each spring that provides a statistical analysis of the available water to inform our decisions regarding water allocation.
TID orders our water from SMRID and we are dependent on their schedule for startup. SMRID has advised us that they are planning on having district-wide water available during the week of May 1st, 2017 (weather depending). TID will have water available from SMRID the week before to start flushing and filling our systems. We anticipate that all TID rehabilitation work will be completed by the end of April. Smaller maintenance such as valve replacement will continue as long as possible.
TID water MAY be available for use in some areas starting the week of May 1st. If you would like water earlier than May 1st, please place a water order with your ditchrider as per normal, so that we can prioritize our schedule to attempt to meet your request. Your ditchrider will then advise you when your water will be available. Note that any unused water orders that cannot be reassigned will be assessed against your annual allocation. The annual allocation for 2017 has been set at 18".