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Milk River Basin


Watershed Area:
11,860 km2
Population (2001):
Population Density:
1 / km2
Avg. Annual Discharge:
167,000 dam3
Total Allocation:
62,361 dam3

The Milk River Basin is the only transboundary basin in Alberta. The Milk River begins in the northern part of the Missouri-Mississippi River Basin in Montana and enters Alberta, flows eastward through the southern portion of the province before looping back to Montana. From here flows enter the Mississippi system and eventually empty into the Gulf of Mexico.

Watershed Facts

  • The Milk River Basin is the smallest of the province's major river basins
  • Based on information from the 2001 Census of Agriculture, there were about 1,372 farms (three percent of Alberta total) with an average size of 1,981 acres in the Milk River basin.
  • Farms in the Milk River Basin cover an area of 2.7 million acres; this is equivalent to about 11,000 km2 or about 93 per cent of the Milk Basin.
  • The oldest licences for crop watering or irrigation date back to the 1890s. The allocations for irrigation have increased over time from about 7,000 dam3 in 1890 to 44,000 dam3 in 1980 (and the amount of water allocated to irrigation has remained about the same since then).
  • No new licences or registrations have been issued since 2000.
  • There are no active petroleum or industrial licences in basin.