Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is SEAWA?

SEAWA is a non-profit, non-government organization, dedicated to preserving the health of the South Saskatchewan River Sub-basin and Pakowki Lake watersheds. We are a Watershed planning and Advisory Council for Alberta, and implement various restoration, research, and community education projects. Click here to learn more!

What is a WPAC?

A WPAC, or Watershed Planning and Advisory Council, is an organization designated by the government of Alberta to report on the health and well-being of the eleven major watersheds within the province, in order to achieve the goals of the provincial Water for Life strategy. WPACs carry out restoration projects, education initiatives, and research within their respective watersheds. To learn more about WPACs visit:

What is a riparian area?

A riparian area is the land directly adjacent to a body of water. This often serves as the transition between aquatic and upland ecosystems, and often has much higher biodiversity than surrounding areas. For detailed information about riparian areas, visit our 'Riparian Restoration' page here.

What kinds of shrubs do you plant?

In our restoration projects so far, SEAWA has planted several native species of trees and shrubs including:

  • Thorny Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea)
  • Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)
  • Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)
  • Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
  • Wolf Willow / Silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata)
  • Sandbar Willow (Salix exigua)
  • Western Snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)
  • Manitoba Maple / Boxelder (Acer negundo)
  • Eastern / Plains Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
  • Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
  • Silver Sagebrush (Artemisia cana)
  • Skunkbush Sumac (Rhus trilobata)

What's the problem with Russian olive?

Russian olive is an introduced species that has the ability to push out native plants from riparian areas, establishing a monoculture. In Medicine Hat, several areas of the South Saskatchewan River and Seven Persons Creek have already been invaded by Russian olive. It is a pretty tree, but the ecological damage it can cause far outweighs its aesthetic value.

If you are considering planting Russian olive, it is highly recommended to use a similar native plant instead. Wolf willow and thorny buffaloberry are two species that are in the same family as Russian olive, but are native!

Learn more about issues with Russian olive below:

Russian Olive: A Locally Invasive Tree (/assets/media/documents/publications/Russian-olive-info-sheet-draft-FINAL-FINAL.pdf)

What does wildlife have to do with water quality?

In nature, everything is connected. Because of this, the presence or lack of wildlife can have significant effects on the physical landscape, and water quality. One of the best examples of this is Yellowstone National Park in the United States. In 1995, after almost 70 years of wolves not existing in the area around Yellowstone, they were reintroduced. This one change caused the entire park to change; ecologically, and physically. Learn more at these links:

What can I do to help?

If you are interested in helping directly with SEAWA, you can donate, volunteer, or become a member!

If you'd like to learn more about the watershed, the threats it faces, and ways to protect it, there are plenty of ways to do so! Consider reading some SEAWA publications, attending one of our educational forums, visiting us at local events (such as the Medicine Hat Stampede, Spectrum festival, or Redcliff Days), or joining groups such as the Grasslands Naturalists (