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RVC committee hears about proposed water restrictions during drought

Proposed water restrictions would run gamut from no restrictions to full restriction once adopted by council.

At a Rocky View County (RVC) Governance Committee meeting on May 21, committee members heard a presentation from RVC Utility Services Communications and Engagement representatives about RVC’s Water Shortage Plan. 

Following environmental monitoring in 2023 by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEPA), it was determined that snowpack and reservoir levels were not favourable, according to RVC utility strategist Rick Dean. 

In response, Dean said municipal service water license holders were requested to establish plans for potential water scarcity. With zero water use restrictions currently in place in the county, AEPA asks water usage be reduced by five to 10 per cent as well. 

The RVC Water Shortage Plan was crafted keeping these guidelines in mind, said Dean. 

According to a report presented by Dean and RVC communications and engagement manager Candace Denison, forecasts for 2024 will see RVC experience light levels of drought, but Denison said the broader Alberta forecast shows notable drought in the next year. 

Dean said the Water Shortage Plan covers strategies for water management during drought or scarcity, with a focus on residential irrigation, and proposes four distinct levels for water management restrictions be established:

Level zero corresponds to no restrictions, said Dean. But under level one restrictions, RVC residents would follow specific water use schedules in accordance with their location and RVC guidelines at the onset of restrictions. 

Properties would only be able to water three days a week under level one restrictions. Even numbered properties would water intermittently on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, while odd would water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. 

According to the report, level one restrictions would also require residents to operate manual irrigation systems between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. or 7 p.m. to midnight. Automatic irrigation would run between 6 a.m. and midnight. 

Under level two restrictions, water use is dropped to once a week. Level three means a total shutdown of residential water use for irrigation purposes. 

The RVC report presented to the Governance Committee defines outdoor and residential water usage as cases where water usage outside of a building is non-essential, such as washing your house, car, or sidewalks, applying fertilizer, filling outdoor fountains, or lawn sprinklers for any use. 

The report said Rocky View County also faces unique challenges with water management due to population demands and varying landscape, but Denison said county administration will be actively collaborating, strategizing, and communicating to equip residents with all of the resources they need. 

Deputy Reeve and Division 2 Coun. Don Kochan asked the presenters if the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) had fallen in line with the proposed RVC Water Shortage Plan, but Dean explained that each water system is different and requires specific needs.

“So, there will be plans developed and everybody shares their plans so we can learn from one another?” asked Kochan. 

Dean replied by saying RVC utility members and himself have been attending monthly meetings with the CMRB to nail down their unique water shortage plans.

Division 1 Coun. Kevin Hansen additionally asked the presenters about what procedures would look like in the event of drought restrictions being needed. 

“Collaboratively, everybody talks about what the forecast looks like,” said Dean, “if there is any hot and dry weather, the snowpack is melting rapidly, and reservoirs are lowering, that is when collaboratively we move in a unified direction.” 

Dean said any water license holder is welcome to attend the meetings based on basin, and he believes it is important for license holders to understand the current state of affairs with environment, finances, and drought through the meetings. 

Committee members voted unanimously to receive the RVS Water Shortage plan as information. 


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