Home Sustainable Okotoks 10 Branches of Sustainability 1. Water Management Our Water
A Bit of History...
As far back as the mid-1980s, the Town of Okotoks has been diligently pursuing additional water supply licensing through Alberta Environment (AE) to accommodate future growth.
1985: moratorium placed by AE on the Sheep River
1988: AE's practice in the 1980s and 1990s was to grant 25 year water licenses to municipalities. Okotoks' application to AE for an increase in water allocation was denied as it was determined that the existing allocation would meet the Town's requirements at that time
1992: the Town began to investigate the West Wellfield for an additional water supply; two test wells were installed and licensed for flow testing
1996-99: Wells 7 & 8, the two existing test wells, were converted to full production wells
2003: Well 9 was added to the West Wellfield
2005: moratorium placed by AE on all new water license requests was imposed with the introduction of the South Saskatchewan Water Management Plan (SSWMP)
Since 1985 Okotoks was continually denied additional water licensing.
The Town of Okotoks Water Management Plan (WMP)
In order to achieve the water usage goals that were part of 1998's Legacy Plan, carrying capacity was established at 30,000 people if a 30% per capita reduction in water usage could be achieved. The WMP was implemented in 2002, with its ultimate purpose being to ensure provision of quality potable water to residents, institutions and businesses.
What Has Been Done?
In the 8 years since the WMP was introduced, there have been numerous water conservation efforts that have resulted in key successes for our community. Examples include:
• Continual commitment to sustainability through progressive planning, use of new technology, innovative infrastructure design, public information, education, and advertising campaigns
• Development of a state-of-the-art leak detection and water monitoring system
• Water system infrastructure upgrades (facilities and monitoring), including water main replacements
• Development of a bold per capita water consumption target of 318L/person/day. From 2009 - 2010, residents reduced their annual consumption from 335L/person/day to close to 300L/person/day!
• Creation of outdoor watering schedule (May - Oct.) for residents, institutions and Town lands & facilities
• Development of residential water conservation guidelines to property's registered title; sustainable landscaping standards in new subdivisions and the encouragement of xeriscaping
• Implementation of a Low Flow Fixtures Bylaw for all new development and renovations for outdoor & indoor water consumption reduction
• Rebate Programs totalling approximately $30,000
• Strong emphasis on a consumption-based rate structure for water and sewer
• 20-year utilities operation agreement with EPCOR Water Services, Inc.
• Tri-community water conservation and public education program
• Mechanical retrofits in Town facilities to low-water consumption devices
Actions to Date
The Town entered into two water license transfer agreements. These licenses are estimated to provide adequate water supply for at least another 2 years of growth population.
of new subdivision activity will be done in a fair and equitable manner and within the water licensing quantities available to Okotoks.
Alternative water supply options are being explored which could include regional and sub-regional water supply solutions, provided that it can be demonstrated that sustainable and environmentally responsible solutions can be found.
A top priority of Council is to deal with long-term water issues. 2011 key strategies and actions include:
• Formally request the Province to commission a scientific study to determine if a regional water
pipeline from the Bow and Highwood Rivers can provide an adequate and sustainable supply of water to the region.
• Propose to the Province and other stakeholders that they provide funding to conduct a pilot project in Okotoks to research and implement cutting edge technologies in water conservation.
• Negotiate within the Alberta water market and Alberta Environment to pursue additional water licenses through sustainable management practices.
• Actively work with Alberta Environment to harmonize the Water Act, Regulations and the South Saskatchewan River Basin Approved Water Management Plan to allow the application of progressive water management strategies including “Net Diversion Licences” (as specified in the Water Management Plan), aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) and beneficial reuse of reclaimed wastewater and stormwater for non-potable uses. Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is commonly applied in North America as a mechanism to manage and protect groundwater resources and limit harmful impacts on surface water quality and quantity. ASR is now common in water-short areas in Arizona, Nevada and California - essentially it represents a mechanism to increase storage of water during peak periods to make water available to augment low-flow conditions.
• Schedule specific meetings with stakeholders to gain support and assistance for Okotoks in our urgent need to determine sustainable water supply options. These stakeholders include the Government of Alberta, the Calgary Regional Partnership, the Bow River Basin Council and the Sheep River Watershed core group, the MD of Foothills and the Towns of High River, Black Diamond and Turner Valley.
• Expand the Okotoks Water Management Plan to further find additional creative means of water conservation, including creating additional policies, programs and incentives that will further advance conservation, efficiency and productivity to meet our build-out population of approximately 30,000 people.