Water quantity evaluation
Water quantity is evaluated differently for rivers and streams, lakes and groundwater.
Rivers and streams
Streamflow hydrographs record data from gauges installed in waterways, indicating how much water flows past a fixed point, over time.
Lake bathymetry uses sonar devices to measure variations in water depth, then links this measurement to the lake's surface area and volume change with depth. This allows for estimates of water gained and lost as the lake's level goes up or down. Bathymetric surveys are commercially available for many Alberta lakes.
Difficult to quantify because of geological variables, but can be achieved using computer flow modeling. A pump test can demonstrate the sustainable productivity of a single, groundwater well. However the groundwater resource of an entire area is at best an approximation.
Alberta Environment and its stakeholders have a network of precipitation gauges throughout the province, providing a good measure of distribution and quantity of the province's rainfall. This is critical in evaluating potential water availability. Alberta also collects real time precipitation from many stations and regularly produces summary maps of the province-wide distribution of precipitation.