Town good to grow thanks to new water licenses

Okotoks: Residents keeping water consumption low

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Thursday, Aug 28, 2014 12:58 pm

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The Town has given the green light to developers working on new subdivisions in the Air Ranch and Drake Landing areas to build new homes after recently acquiring two new water licenses.

The licenses were sponsored by developers, which municipal manager Rick Quail said is a common practice, and the town has a water queuing policy that prevents developments from being approved until water has been secured.

The new licenses were previously used for irrigation, meaning they are seasonal and will be used from the beginning of May to the end of September. They will help feed the town’s higher water consumption rate during those months. During a hot dry spell from mid July to August this year, water consumptions increased 43 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Okotoks now has enough water license capacity for a population of 31,656, giving it room for another 4,325 residents. Those numbers are based on the annual target consumption rate of 285 litres per person/day. Meating this target hasn’t been a problem so far, as last year Okotoks was able to boast an average rate of 273 litres per person/day.

The low rate is credited to the Okotoks Water Management Plan, which was first developed in 2002. Okotoks has implemented a number of water conservation measures that most residents are familiar with, such as the outdoor watering schedule. In 2008, the Water Rebate Program was first introduced – each year allowing residents to get money back on their water saving purchases until the $40,000 fund runs out.

Okotoks sustainability coordinator Dawn Smith, said since its inception, the program has sold out every year.

“It’s hugely successful every year and there's always growing interest and people just know about it now and expect it to come out every year,” she said.

Each year the town does an analysis and the program is tweaked to add new products to the rebate list, but looking towards next year, Smith said she doesn’t anticipate a lot of change.

“We might keep it quite similar – the most popular items were definitely mulch for the second year in a row, followed by low-flow toilets,” she said. “We implemented dishwashers and clothes washers this year, and they were quite popular considering the price point being much higher.”

One area that the Town is still working on is conserving water at the commercial level. Right now the water rebate program is only applicable to residential units, but Smith says they’re working on a plan to include businesses as well, and have put aside $10,000 for a commercial rebate program already.

“Some of out highest water users are restaurants, so we're looking at doing a rebate program with pre-rinse spray vales, and potentially commercial level dishwashers,” she said. “Issue there is they are at a very high price point, so what type of rebate would incent these businesses to spend that kind of money? Perhaps $200 isn’t enough.”

Until the long-term water pipeline to Calgary is established, Okotoks will continue with its water conservation measures while seeking additional water licenses. The pipeline agreement is expected to be completed by the end of the year.


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