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The Athabasca Watershed

The Athabasca River Watershed

Water is everywhere. It’s in lakes, sloughs, and puddles. It’s in rivers, creeks, streams, and underground aquifers. It comes from rain, snow, hail, and melting glaciers. All water flows downhill, and if that water eventually ends up in the Athabasca River, then it’s in our watershed.

The Athabasca River is 1,231km long. It flows from the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park to Lake Athabasca. The Athabasca River watershed covers about 24% of Alberta (159,000 square km).

Our watershed is diverse. It contains several distinct ecosystems, including alpine regions, parkland, and boreal forest. It is the site of many kinds of industrial activities, including agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, and others. It contains all or part of over 37 municipalities: from an urban centre of 70,000+ to multiple towns, hamlets, counties and 15 First Nation and Métis communities. It spans Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 territories and is home to many Indigenous peoples.

To manage the water that we all depend on, we must effectively manage the land that we share. To do that, we must come together to understand the issues, challenges, opportunities, and blind spots. The Athabasca Watershed Council works to bring stakeholders, citizens, and Indigenous peoples together to effectively manage the Athabasca River watershed.


The Athabasca River Basin Research Institute – Athabasca University

Created in 2008, the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI) is an innovative interdisciplinary research centre that studies the Athabasca River Basin and its people from a broad range of perspectives.

Learn more about ARBRI


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