Friday, October 22, 2010

Weather extremes for Saskatchewan

Rory MacLean in the StarPhoenix (Saskatchewan): The South Saskatchewan River is a lifeblood for the province, but melting glaciers and fast-rising demand threaten to leave Saskatchewan high and dry, say local water experts. "I think we're going to have to prepare for some very serious droughts . . . decade droughts," said Meewasin Valley Authority CEO Susan Lamb.

Climate change models point to a much dryer future for Saskatchewan, meaning the time to re-evaluate essential water resources is now, she says. "These days there's a lot of talk about, 'Potash belongs to the people of Saskatchewan.' Well, water does, too."

The South Saskatchewan River Basin covers a huge territory, more than 440,000 square kilometres that stretches across three provinces -- almost the size of France. Most of the water comes from the melt of seasonal snow pack and glaciers, and a portion of the in-flow comes from local precipitation. But save for an uncommonly wet spell around the time of settlement, Saskatchewan's contributions to the basin have been minimal.

"Everybody who migrated to Saskatchewan came during the longest, wettest period in its history . . . the government got lucky," said David Sauchyn, a member of the University of Regina-based Prairie Adaptation Research Collective and author of The New Normal: Canadian Prairies in a Changing Climate….

The South Saskatchewan River near Medicine Hat, shot by Paul Jerry, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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