Towns population exceeds 26,000 mark
Okotoks: Water use down in spite of growth
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 06:00 am
Okotoks’ population continued to grow over the last year, but Town officials say there is no risk of hitting the water limit in 2013.
The 2013 municipal census shows Okotoks’ population as of May 8 was 26,319, up from 24,962 in 2012. The results, which were presented to town council on Aug. 19, showed 1,357 people moved to town in the last year, an increase of 5.4 per cent.
The census was held in May and June when enumerators visited 9,240 households in Okotoks. Enumerators made three attempts to contact residents and only 50 households could not be counted in the census.
Mayor Bill Robertson said the results show Okotoks remains an attractive place to live.
Robertson pointed out Okotoks’ growth rate is speeding up compared to recent years. In 2012 the town’s population grew by 4.09 per cent and 3.36 percent rate in 2011.
“This is a desirable place to come,” he said. “People would like to move to Okotoks and I think we’re well positioned for the future.”
As more people call Okotoks home, the Town is still struggling to find additional sources of water to serve them.
The Town is licensed to use 3.047 million cubic meters of water per year from the Sheep River aquifer, enough to serve a population between 27,000 to 28,000 people.
Robertson acknowledged the situation and said the Town is working on a plan to address its water needs.
He said the Town needs to continue to look at all options for water, negotiating the acquisition of new water licenses to meet short-term needs and continuing to work on a long-term plan for water.
“We are optimistic we will have some water licenses, some small licenses acquired to extend our capacity even further,” said Robertson.
Okotoks operations manager Dave Robertson said despite the increase in population water use is down 10 per cent this year, compared to 2012 when a total of 2.975 million cubic meters of water was used.
If the trend continues, he said he doesn’t expect the Town will hit its water limit for another 18 to 24 months.
“I’m surprised a little bit about the water consumption,” he said. “It’s gotta be awareness, awareness that water has a value. I’ve never seen this before where actual in-house consumption has leveled off, or actually it’s dropped. It’s dropped quite a bit.”
He said water use so far this year is comparable to levels seen in 2010, when the Okotoks’ population was 23,201.
“On average, what I’m looking at is we are roughly 10 per cent every month this year, compared to where we were last year,” he said. “If that continues to the end of the year we’re going to be at least 10 per cent less overall consumption that we had last year.”
He credits lower household water use, a rainy summer and repairs to two major leaks in the Town’s water system for the lower water consumption this year.