The Peace River Basin hosts a number of highly-productive tight oil and gas developments including the Montney formation in BC and Alberta. Water Management Planning processes are underway including the Wapiti River Water Management Plan and the Mighty Peace Integrated Watershed Management Plan. Both planning processes are collaborative, multi-stakeholder initiatives that will address critical issues including: environmental base flow; in-stream flow needs (IFN); water availability; water quality; First Nations needs and Treaty rights; and water licensing.
As with all river basins, one of the challenges within the Water Management Framework will be to understand the difference between licensed allocations and actual use.
Within the Wapiti River Basin, annual allocations represent 63 million m3 of the 3 billion m3 of annual flow (2%). Of this amount, 13.5 million m3 is designated for consumptive use (cooling, irrigation) or losses. In 2014, consumptive uses plus losses only totaled 2.3 million m3, The difference can be attributed to a variety of reasons: reduced production by large users; conservation and efficiency initiatives; weather effects; and, measurement or reporting variability.
Our team has been heavily involved in the Bow River Water Management Plan and resultant framework for water license transfers. We hope to apply our lessons-learned as we now assist in the watershed management planning process for the Peace and Wapiti in the months ahead.