Why is the Battle River Important?
The Battle River and its tributaries are an important water supply for residents, agriculture and industry throughout the Battle Watershed.
- Municipalities use the Battle River system for drinking water, household use, and business and industry
- Agriculture uses the river for irrigation, stock watering and intensive agriculture.
- Industry uses the river for power generation and oilfield injection
- Residents use the river for recreational fishing, canoeing and boating
In this way, the Battle River provides us with free ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the beneficial outcomes for the natural environment and for people that result from ecosystem functions.
Some experts have calculated that operating a human engineered system to supply these services would cost us more than $100 million per year! Find out exactly what these ecosystem services are.
To fish and wildlife...
The Battle River System is also habitat for fish and wildlife in the Battle Watershed. The Battle River fishery is the most important fishery in the eastern part of central Alberta.
How do we affect the Battle River?
Everything we do in the Battle River Watershed has the potential to affect water quality and quantity in the Battle River. City and town residents, farmers and industry all affect water in the Battle River system.
Click here to see some facts about the status of the Battle River
How we affect water quantity
- When we draw water for drinking, washing, gardens, agriculture and industry we reduce the amount of water in the river.
- Wetlands and riparian areas are like giant sponges that store water. When we fill wetlands and clear riparian vegetation, we reduce the amount of water stored in the watershed.
- When we build dams and reservoirs, we increase water evaporation from the river (by increasing the surface area of water exposed to air). Dams, weirs and culverts also affect fish and the ecological functions of the river.
- When we clear riparian vegetation, stream banks erode away, the river channel silts in, and the river becomes wider, shallower, and less shaded. This increases the amount of water lost to evaporation.
- When we use power at home or in our businesses, we use water, because water is needed to cool thermal power plants. Thermal power production is the second largest user of water in Alberta after irrigation.
- When we use gasoline, oil or other petroleum products such as plastics, we use water because water is used in oil recovery.
How we affect water quality
- Oil, gas, detergent, pesticides and other pollution washes off of gardens, lawns, roads and driveways into storm sewers that often drain directly into the river with little or no treatment.
- Chemicals, detergents, human waste and food washed down our drains into sewer systems are largely removed by sewage treatment plants. Some of these pollutants do reach the river, however, depending on the effectiveness of the sewage treatment plant.
- Chemicals, food, human waste and detergents that go into septic systems may seep into ground water or into nearby streams and lakes.
- Wetlands and riparian vegetation naturally filter out pollutants in water. We lose these natural filters when wetlands are filled and when riparian vegetation around rivers and lakes is cleared.
- Pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals applied to farmer’s fields, golf courses and lawns can run-off into lakes, creeks and rivers and seep into groundwater.
- Improperly disposed-of hazardous waste from homes, farms and industry can seep through the soil and into groundwater. Groundwater flows through soil into our wells, rivers and lakes.
- Livestock manure and excrement from pets can also run-off into rivers, lakes and wetlands, and seep into groundwater.
- Factories and heavy industry must remove most pollutants from the water they use before it is returned to rivers or lakes. However, if an industry fails to comply with its water licence, water pollution may occur.
For more information
Visit the Government of Alberta's Water for Life Strategy webpage.
Read Facts about Water in Alberta
What YOU can do to protect the Battle River Watershed:
Visit our You Can Help Page!
Properly dispose of household hazardous waste
Sustainable soil and water management on the farm
Sustainable waterfront living