Welcome to the Milk River Watershed Council Canada

Schoepf-0235.jpgThe Milk River watershed is a unique watershed located in the most southern part of Alberta. It is unique, known not just for its dry climate, extraordinary landscapes and diverse plant and wildlife communities but also for the direction in which the Milk River flows.  The Milk River is the only watershed in Alberta that drains south to the Gulf of Mexico.  Alberta shares the Milk River watershed with the province of Saskatchewan and the State of Montana, U.S.A.

Water shortages are not uncommon in the Milk River watershed.  As the problem of water scarcity continues to grow, proper water and watershed management is critical.  The Milk River Watershed Council Canada is committed to working with government and non-government agencies, other non-profit organizations, industry and Milk River watershed residents to effectively manage watershed resources.

Anyone living and/or working in the Milk River watershed is invited to participate.  Please browse through our website and see how you can get involved in the many exciting activities of the MRWCC!

Contaminated water advisory issued for Milk River at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park - July 22, 2016

“Due to elevated levels of fecal coliforms currently present in the waters of Milk River, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is advising the public not to swim or wade in the Milk River at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. The public is also advised not to drink this contaminated river water, as water-borne organisms, including fecal coliforms, can cause vomiting and diarrhea  Elevated levels of fecal coliforms were detected during routine testing of Milk River water at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. At current levels, skin, ear and eye infections can result from any contact with Milk River water in the vicinity of Writing on Stone Park”.- From Alberta Health Services. For more information on the advisory click on the link below:


The Milk River Watershed Council Canada (MRWCC) extensively monitors a number of sites along the Milk River and its tributaries for water quality concerns. The MRWCC also conducts research and facilitates stewardship projects to address water quality concerns when appropriate. Recent work completed by the Council in partnership with Alberta Agriculture on fecal source tracking has determined a significant proportion of the standard coliform testing total coliform counts comes from wildlife, particularly cliff and bank swallow colonies found along the Milk River that often number in the thousands this time of year when young ones are active but still returning to the nesting sites. Another phenomena unique to the Milk River is the presence of naturalized guttural bacteria that thrive in the milky waters and sands of the Milk River that express in higher numbers during lower flow periods. Currently, research is being conducted to see if there is a correlation between high fecal counts and bacteria that cause risk to human health. Initial results are showing no such correlation.

Recreational users of the Milk River should always take precaution to reduce exposure to raw water such as:

  • Using shower facilities directly after recreating;
  • Never drinking untreated surface water;
  • Not entering the river if you have exposed wounds or sores, or a compromised immune system.

More information on the MRWCC monitoring work and the fecal source tracking study can be accessed on the links below: 

Water Quality Monitoring

Microbial Source Tracking of Fecal
Coliform Bacteria in the Milk River

Funding Available For Stewardship Implementation

Attention Milk River Watershed Residents and Producers!

The Milk River Watershed Council Canada (MRWCC) has secured funding for Milk River residents and producers through the Watershed Restoration and Resiliency Program (WRRP) to initiate a riparian restoration and stewardship program.

Funding is available to residents and agricultural producers located along the North Fork Milk River (Reach1) and the Milk River Gravel-Bed Reach (Reach3). Producers in other areas of the watershed will be considered based on project merit, and can include sites on tributaries of the Milk River such as Red Creek and Breed Creek. The targeted projects will improve riparian health of the Milk River and build resiliency to both flood and drought impacts within the watershed, as well as potentially improve water quality.

The MRWCC has formed a WRRP Project Review Committee which is responsible for selecting applicants based on merit and funding eligibility. Please note that funding is available on a first come first serve basis.

Please apply as soon as possible, as we are currently looking for shovel ready projects that meet the objectives of the program.

Please download the following documents to access:

Funding Guidelines

Terms of Reference

Application Forms - AEP WRRP

Application Form - ARD Growing Forward 2 Agricultural Watershed Enhancement Program 

Letter of Agreement

For more information please contact mary@mrwcc.ca or 403-647-3808

The Milk River Watershed Council Canada Receives Core and Project Funding From the Government of Alberta - Alberta Environment and Parks 

The MRWCC recently received a grant of $284,000 from Alberta Environment and Parks to help carry out watershed planning and management activities for the fiscal year 2016/17.

The MRWCC is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization that strives for a watershed where community well-being is supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy, functioning environment that will endure as a legacy for future generations.

The Government of Alberta (GOA) has supported the MRWCC since its inception in 2005. This support has enabled the Council to carry out core operations and partially fund watershed projects. The MRWCC wishes to thank the GOA for this continued support. 

Alberta Conservation Association Grant Received

The Milk River Watershed Council Canada (MRWCC) is pleased to announce that it received a $10,000 grant from the Alberta Conservation Association through their Conservation, Community and Education Grants program. This funding will be used to promote and enhance the youth engagement program within the Milk River watershed. The MRWCC would like to thank the ACA for their support in ensuring the continuation of youth education!

New Education Outreach Programs:

  • Interactive Online High School Courses

The Milk River Watershed Council Canada (MRWCC) is pleased to offer its interactive online course "Introduction to the Milk River Watershed, AB."  It is aligned with Education Alberta's  CTS 1110 Natural Resources,  a one credit course under the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) Natural Resources cluster. This MRWCC course is available for html, mobile, and LMS (Learning Management System) delivery.

  • School Field Trips

The Milk River Watershed Council Canada and Alberta Parks are partnering to offer experiential programs that support the learning outcomes of Alberta Education. These new programs will be piloted in fall 2014 as 1.5 hour guided walks through the badlands at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park / Áísínai'pi National Historic Site.

Click the link to view the new Education Outreach Programs for Elementary and Middle Schools: http://mrwcc.ca/index.php/get-involved/education-outreach-programs/  

For further information please contact Kathryn Romanchuk at 403-647-4306

The Milk River Transboundary State of the Watershed Report - 2nd Edition

SOW_Cover-website_0.jpgThe MRWCC is please to release the 2nd Edition of the Milk River Transboundary State of the Watershed Report. This report is a significant achievement in the move towards resource management that is uninhibited by political boundaries. Resource managers in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and in the state of Montana in the United States joined together with the Milk River Watershed Council Canada to report on the state of the Milk River watershed.

This report documents general trends in the condition of natural resources in the watershed and includes information on:

  • Watershed Characteristics
  • Socio-economic conditions
  • Surface water quantity and allocation
  • Surface water quality
  • Groundwater
  • Riparian areas and wetlands
  • Biodiversity
  • Land use
  • Watershed stewardship

A read only copy of the report can be accessed below. A printable version is available under Library.

Hard copies of the report are available at the MRWCC office located in the Town Office at 240 Main Street in Milk River, Counties of Warner, Cardston, Cypress, and Forty Mile. For more information please contact us at 403-647-3808 or email mary@mrwcc.ca

Production of this report was a collaborative effort by numerous stakeholders.

The MRWCC wishes to thank everyone for their contribution.