Foothills municipalities open to co-operating on water

Foothills: MD reeve says Calary water pipeline not needed

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 07:58 pm

Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson walks along the banks of the Sheep River on Tuesday morning. Foothills municipalities are open to co-operating on water in the wake of an Okotoks town council decision rejecting a water pipeline from Calgary.
Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson walks along the banks of the Sheep River on Tuesday morning. Foothills municipalities are open to co-operating on water in the wake of an Okotoks town council decision rejecting a water pipeline from Calgary.
Don Patterson/OWW

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A made in the foothills solution to the water woes in Okotoks and the surrounding area is a distinct possibility and may never require a water pipeline from Calgary, according to the MD of Foothills reeve.

Reeve Larry Spilak said the opportunity exists to accommodate water needs for Okotoks, the MD and High River within the foothills area.

“There is some potential, there is some additional water license available and certainly on the Highwood as well,” he said.

Spilak’s comments came after Okotoks town council voted to proceed with annexation, while at the same time rejecting a water pipeline from Calgary last week in favour of investigating alternatives within the foothills area.

Spilak said he would rather see a regional water strategy for the foothills area, over a water pipeline from Calgary. There are a number of potential water sources within the foothills, including the Sheep, Highwood and Bow Rivers, said Spilak.

In fact, he said a pipeline from the City is not needed now or in the future.

If a pipeline from the Bow River is required for the foothills area at some point in the future, he said it could be located entirely within the MD.

“We can draw water from the Bow the same as Calgary does,” he said.

High River Mayor Emile Blockland said the Town would be open to working with Okotoks, but there’s a number of things it would have to consider first.

“I think the council for the Town of High River is very willing to work regionally wherever we can,” he said.

A pipeline from High River extends through the Highway 2A corridor to the Warner Business Park, southeast of Okotoks.

Yet, it’s not as simple as it may seem to extend the pipeline to Okotoks, said Blockland.

First, he said they have to make sure there is enough water available to service Okotoks’ expansion.

It won’t be long before he has an answer this question.

High River and the MD of Foothills are wrapping up a study of the water aquifer in the area and once the study is complete the municipalities will have a much better idea on how much water is available in the local aquifers.

High River also has to make sure it has enough water for its own development plans, said Blockland.

“We want to make sure we can accommodate our own residents and our own growth,” he said.

As well, Blockland said the Aldersyde pipeline will need to be assessed to make sure it would be large enough to serve Okotoks.

“I’m not sure what size of line is in there, but it might not be adequate depending on the amount of water that’s sent north,” he said.

According to Blockland, High River does not have a significant need for a pipeline for water from Calgary or any other outside source.

“We’re probably the only community south of Calgary that isn’t up against the wall as far as water availability,” he said.

However, he said all options should remain on the table for the future given the potential for development in the region.

The Town of Okotoks will have to develop a plan to expand its water supply as it moves forward with annexing land for 30 years of growth.

Okotoks Mayor Bill Roberson said there’s a variety of options the Town could look at within the foothills region, such as off-stream storage, reservoirs or injecting water into the Sheep River aquifer to pull out when needed.

“There’s a number of options we need to explore. We’re exploring them in terms of their feasibility and in terms of provincial approvals,” he said.

Ultimately, whatever Okotoks and other foothills municipalities end up choosing, it will still require final approval from the provincial government.

“We might have a great idea but if it doesn’t get credibility or the okay from the Province, then it won’t work,” he said.


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