The Vermilion River watershed is located in the Parkland Natural Region of East Central Alberta. It is a rural area dominated by agriculture and is one of 12 sub-watersheds within the larger North Saskatchewan River (NSR) watershed. It covers an area of 7,860 km2, or 14% of the total NSR basin.
It includes all or portions of eight rural municipalities (Beaver, Flagstaff, Lamont, Camrose, Minburn, Two Hills, Vermilion River and St. Paul Counties) plus twelve urban municipalities. The largest urban municipalities are the Towns of Vegreville and Vermilion. Together, these urban and rural municipalities have a population of 56,977 people (Statistics Canada, 2011).
The State of the North Saskatchewan River Watershed Report (2005) gave the Vermilion River sub watershed a subjective rating of “poor”. Significant data gaps exist in terms of water quality, surface and groundwater hydrology, and overall ecological conditions.
To address this, from October 2011 to March 2012, public consultations were held throughout the Vermilion River watershed area and at various public events in east central Alberta. The feedback received from those meetings, plus a survey on draft goals, watershed management directions, and actions presented in a Discussion Paper informed the recommendations in the Vermilion River Watershed Management Plan, and helped identify priorities for implementation.
In 2012 the Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan evaluated the impact of wetlands on the Vermilion River watershed hydrology.