The provincial government has created a Drought and Flood Protection Program in order to help Albertans withstand the severe weather we have been seeing the last several years.

"Today, due to a strong El Nino not seen in over seven years, we're seeing warmer temperatures coupled with even less precipitation," explained Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Shulz at a media conference on March 4th. "This has led to empty riverbeds and dangerously low reservoirs across our province. This is a serious situation and our government recognized we had to take immediate action in Budget 2024."

Because of this, the provincial government has committed to investing $125 million over five years to the Drought and Flood Protection Program.

With this money, the program will help vulnerable municipalities and Indigenous communities in Alberta to help fund infrastructure needed to become resilient against flood and drought, as well as adapting to severe weather.

"We know that communities have great ideas on projects to make them drought and flood proof. But building this infrastructure, of course, is costly and municipalities and Indigenous communities are already struggling with inflation, the Federal carbon tax, and rising energy costs. That's why we're launching the Drought and Flood Protection Program, to help communities build the infrastructure that they need to keep their people safe. We're doing this through local grants, because we know the needs differ from region to region and town to town," said Minister Shulz.

Under the Drought and Flood Protection Program, funding will go towards the design and construction of projects that will help secure critical infrastructure from drought and flooding, such as relocating and drought-proofing infrastructure, improving drainage, improving water retention ponds, constructing flood barriers, and improving riverbanks.

"But more to that, this is about people. It's about relocating water intake, so families have access to water. It's about improving water access and storage, so that businesses can keep the economy going. It's about creating new flood barriers so that bridges don't wash out and so basements remain dry," Minister Shulz said. "It's about helping businesses stay open and families stay in their homes, regardless of the weather. Our new Drought and Flood Protection Program will protect families, protect communities and prepare our province for whatever comes in the years ahead."

The Drought and Flood Protection Program is application-based, where improvement districts, Metis Settlements, First Natons, special areas, and municipalities are able to apply.

This program is expected to launch later in the year, and is modelled after the Alberta Community Resilience Program, which was established in 2014, and ran until 2020.

Aside from this program, in Budget 2024, the provincial government has committed a total of $251 million in capital funding over three years for flood and drought mitigation projects, $539 million over three years for Municipal and Regional wastewater projects, and $418 million in capital funding over three years for infrastructure to manage water, particularly going towards irrigation projects that agriculture producers rely on.

More information about the program will be released when the program launches and will be found here.

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