Watershed Planning

An Integrated Watershed Management Plan is developed cooperatively by stakeholders from across the watershed; it includes residents, local industry, interest groups and others. The plan states “shared goals” for the region and it outlines actions needed to reach those goals and manage land, water and related resources on a watershed basis.

Watershed Planning and Advisory Council's in Alberta are tasked with the development of watershed management plans in their respective basins around the province. The LSWC brings together technical experts & professionals with input from public, stakeholders, local governments, First Nations and Métis organizations to develop a plan with mutually agreed upon goals and objectives for our lake and watershed that can be achieved by implementation of the plan's recommendations.  


There are a number of economic, administrative and environmental benefits to developing a watershed management plan including:

  • Helping local boards and councils and other decision makers prioritize limited resources;
  • Giving community members a voice in protecting and restoring watershed resources;
  • Providing greater access to resources for project implementation;
  • Targeting activities and programs to areas that need greater protection or to areas where limited resources will be most effective.

A plan can also set a baseline for measuring the success of management efforts and reduce the cost of remedial actions by preventing future problems. Click HERE to see a brochure about the IWMP

There are a number of tasks involved in developing a plan. Land and water related issues in the watershed need to be identified and prioritized, projects or policies must be developed to address the issues, and it must be identified how land and water management programs will be carried out throughout the watershed.

A watershed management plan is considered integrated when:

  • The planning process is inclusive and broad and combines the needs of diverse watershed stakeholders;
  • There is recognition of the balance between ecosystem, community and economic health;
  • The process respects the integration of activities on the land and their impact on water.

The LSWC is committed to facilitating the development of a truly integrated watershed management plan and will build on and draw from the excellent work already completed in other Alberta Watersheds. 


Learn about some of the activities and land uses that take place in the Watershed and how they may impact the watershed. Click the link's to view the fact sheet for each topic:


Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development provides a number of support material and publications for Watershed Planning in Alberta. These are organized under the following categories:

Watershed Management

In their report the Alberta Water Council provides twelve recommendations to improve watershed management in Alberta by developing a framework to integrate shared governance and a watershed approach into the existing policy and legislation.

A framework supporting Water for Life that describes how landowners, communities, organizations, industry, and governments can get involved in timely and effective actions for the sustainable management of Alberta’s watersheds.

A reference guide outlining the process for water management planning and the components required for water management plans in Alberta. The framework provides general guidance for a consistent approach to water management planning.

An easy-to-follow glossary of common terms directly associated with water and watershed management in Alberta. The glossary serves as a tool and reference for Water for Life partnerships and working groups.

State of the Watershed Reporting

An overview of the process elements for compiling and evaluating existing and available information for the purpose of completing a broad-scale screening of the physical features, resources and conditions of a watershed. This handbook introduces users to the concept of watershed-scale assessments via watershed health indicators and includes an extensive listing of data and information sources from across the province.

Completing another key action of the Water for Life Action Plan, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development recently released the above noted guide as a reference for groups reporting on conditions within their watershed. The guide sets out criteria and direction for consistent reporting on a subset of watershed health indicators commonly found in state of the watershed reports. The main audience for this document includes Alberta’s Watershed Stewardship Groups and Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils.

The Guide to Reporting on Common Indicators Used in State of the Watershed Reports is a companion document to the Handbook for State of the Watershed Reporting released by Alberta Environment in 2008.

Assessing Environmental Performance

An introduction to generic condition and pressure indicators for land, water quantity, water quality, and aquatic and riparian ecosystems. This report explores the relationship between land and water, and explains how select indicators are linked to environmental outcomes.

This summary document is meant to provide guidance to Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils and Watershed Stewardship Groups in terms of identifying environmental indicators to monitor the environmental state of watersheds and assess progress towards achieving environmental outcomes.