Municipalities across Alberta are being told to prepare for worsening drought conditions.

In a letter addressed to Alberta's Elected Municipal Leaders, Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz is urging municipalities to take proactive steps for the year ahead.

The letter cites low rainfall and high temperatures for the current drought conditions and warns that the global El Niño could exacerbate both of those factors in the coming spring and summer.

Alberta is currently on Stage 4 of its five-stage water management plan, with Stage 5 signifying a province-wide emergency.

Schulz's letter lists four steps municipalities are requested to take in the next few months:

  1. Initiate efforts to monitor water supply infrastructure proactively, paying particular attention to water intake relative to water levels. 
  2. Begin a review of the terms of your municipality’s water licence so you are aware of any conditions that may limit your ability to withdraw water during a drought.
  3. Alert municipal water managers to prepare to be engaged with officials from the Drought Command Team, should conditions within your municipal water licence need to be triggered.
  4. Develop a water shortage plan so your municipality is prepared to respond if water availability decreases.

The province is taking steps of their own too.

They've formed a Drought Command Team, work is underway on a 2024 Drought Emergency Plan, and there are plans to assemble an advisory panel.

They're asking all of Alberta's water users to plan on conserving water this year.

Okotoks town council will see the letter at their Jan. 8 meeting.