Town obtains water license
Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 11:23 am
Okotoks residents can drink up knowing their community now has enough water to support a population of more than 30,000 people.
The Town obtained a water licence that will supply it with an additional 85,037 cubic metres of water per year, enough for 30,549 people based on the current water consumption of 285 litres per capita daily.
Before the licence was acquired, the Town was supplying its approximately 26,634 residents with enough water for a community the size of 29,700 residents, said Rick Quail, Town of Okotoks municipal manager.
“We’ve been working on this licence for well over a year to get it through process,” he said. “It provides for another 800 additional population growth.”
The Town of Okotoks originally anticipated providing water for no more than 30,000 people after a previous council established a population cap. The cap was lifted in 2012, putting the Town in a desperate position to establish more water licences to meet and exceed its growing population.
The Town is currently in negotiations with the City of Calgary with hopes to connect to the city’s water pipeline in the Bow River upstream of the city.
Mayor Bill Robertson said the Town recently joined forces with the Towns of Cochrane, Chestermere, Strathmore and Airdrie, which are seeking the same partnership. The four communities have an interim agreement with the City for water/sewer services, he said.
Robertson expects Okotoks will reach a potential agreement with Calgary early in the fall.
In the meantime, the Town received approval for the water licence on April 4, previously used for irrigation purposes, from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.
The announcement was made at the Okotoks town council meeting on April 14.
Quail said the licence will be utilized between May and September only so the water will remain in the river seven months of the year.
“It works nicely with our consumption patterns,” he said, adding water consumption often peaks in the summer.
In its effort to reduce water consumption in Okotoks, the Town established a short-term consumption goal of 285 litres per capita daily, or less, which it’s currently meeting.
The Town’s long-term target for water consumption is 275 litres per day by 2017.
In addition to encouraging citizens to lower their water consumption, the Town strives to reduce its waterworks leak rate of five per cent or less.
Quail said 2013 was a remarkable year for Okotoks when it came to water use. It was at its lowest in years at 259 litres per capita per day, he said.
“We believe it’s an anomaly and greatly influenced by the abundance of natural precipitation,” he told council.
Robertson said he is impressed with the actions so many residents are taking to reduce their water consumption and expects that will continue.
“I’m confident that our citizens will step up to the plate,” he said.
Robertson told council he established his own goal of water reduction by committing to only use his rain barrels to water his yard this spring and summer.
More water licences are currently in the works for the Town, with four currently in negotiations, said Robertson.
The most recent licence will supply adequate water to the town for another two years worth of growth, he said.