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Didsbury's water bylaw under review as drought solutions sought

Town of Didsbury's bylaw unclear as to how purchasers may use the bulk water supply, council told

DIDSBURY - In response to the possibility that Alberta may find itself in a severe drought situation this summer, town council has decided to have a committee review the municipality’s water utility bylaw and make recommendations if deemed necessary.

The move came by way of motion at the Feb. 13 council meeting, held in person and online.

Like all other Alberta municipalities, the Town of Didsbury recently received a letter from Rebecca Schulz, minister of Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, advising that the province is “currently in a significant drought” and calling for proactive measures.

“We are asking all water users to start planning now to use less water in 2024,” said Schulz. 

The department is asking municipalities to “develop a water shortage plan so your municipality is prepared to response is water availability decreases.”

As part of the drought preparedness process, council has decided to have the policy and governance committee review Bylaw 2019-07 Water Utility.

“It is notable that the bylaw includes a section on outdoor water restrictions,” chief administrative officer Ethan Gorner said in a briefing note to council. 

“The Mountain View Regional Water Service Commission’s water restriction policy notes that during Level 3 restrictions, commercial and industrial users would be impacted. The bylaw is not clear on indoor restrictions on businesses.”

As well, the bylaw is unclear as to how purchasers may use the bulk water supply, he said. 

“The bulk water clause states “Anyone who wishes to obtain water from the public bulk water stations in town shall apply for an account or other authorized form of payment allow them to obtain water form that source and they shall pay for that water the amount as set out in the Rates, Fees and Fines bylaw.

“The bylaw is silent on the topic regarding the sale of treated water for oilfield use.”

Following its review, the policy and governance committee may make recommendations that may be brought back before council for consideration.

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