Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Town of Pincher Creek willing to enter into discussion about water sharing with the MD

Toni Lucas - Council for the Town of Pincher Creek discussed a water request from the Municipal District of Pincher Creek at the Town council's regular meeting on Monday, October 10 (their last regular public meeting prior to next Monday's election). At their September 26 regular meeting council for the MD of Pincher Creek decided to request a temporary water transfer from the Town of Pincher Creek to meet needs.  On October 10 Town council proposed that the MD Council arrange a meeting with Alberta Environment and the MD's engineer to provide the Town with the long range plan for water service and sufficiency and assurance that the Town's water license will not be subject to a 10% holdback from the province.

Councillor Doug Thornton said he was concerned about the possible drawbacks of not having Alberta Environment involved with the ongoing discussion. "I think that we as the Town council need to be prepared to offer a temporary transfer, but only if the Government of Alberta, through the department of environment water licensing, agrees that we will not be subject to a 10% penalty of our existing water licenses."

Mayor Don Anderberg said, "A temporary transfer... and correct me if I'm wrong, was five years. And that came with implications, up to and including us losing 10%of our water rights, which is huge on the Castle (River)." Anderberg said the Town has helped the MD with water before, and was prepared to do so when the water intake in Pincher Creek was washed out a few years ago. "Right now, we are on level three (water) rations, and our situation is still alright, but tenable."  He said later in the meeting, "Water is a serious issue."

Councillor Doug Thornton asked about past water rights in the MD, and whether the MD could approach the Alberta Government for assistance. "Five years ago, the MD of Pincher Creek decided they would go with a regional water system, separate and apart from the one we had been working with, and abandoned an old water license on the Crowsnest River that was originally stated to look after the Hamlet of Lundbreck." Thornton said that license was handed back to the government of Alberta to consolidate the rights out of the Oldman Dam. The MD was also approached by the Alberta Government to supply the water to Castle Mountain Resort. "I think the Province is a bigger player in this problem than we originally thought."

CAO Laurie Wilgosh clarified the request from the MD was for the time frame of October 15, 2017 to April 15, 2018. She also explained the the province can authorize water diversions. "The MD right now is considered to be at Stage Two, and that kicks in at Stage Five."

"If the Province would give them back their license on the Crowsnest, that would solve their problem," said Thornton. Anderberg said he was not sure the MD has a way of taking water from the Crowsnest River anymore.

Councillor Mark Barber expressed concern that meeting with engineers and government officials and create a long range plan would take time. "There is quite an urgency in here to provide the water, if we can at all."

The Mayor said, "Waterflow is another issue. We may not have the waterflow to give up."

The Town has suggested a sign at the MD standpipe that would state "Domestic use only, as per the Town of Pincher Creek water restrictions bylaw."

On September 18, 2017, the Town's Operations Department announced a Stage Three mandatory water restriction, in accordance with Town of Pincher Creek Water Stewardship policy #401-16 to start an aggressive water conservation program.

A few if the implications of that water restriction include:

  • Watering with sprinkler/irrigation system of lawns, gardens, trees or shrubs is not allowed. 
  • The following watering of vegetation are subject to restricted watering times and dates: 6:00 am - 10:00 am & 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm. For even-numbered addresses - Wednesdays only, for odd-numbered addresses - Thursdays only. 
  • Watering of new grass (sod within 21 days, seed within 45 days). 
  • Watering with a hand-held container (gardens, trees or shrubs etc.) is allowed.
Additional restrictions
  • Private & Commercial outdoor impermeable surface washing (exterior building surfaces, driveways, walkways, etc.) Private use is not allowed, Commercial use is allowed. All forms of hosing of outdoor surfaces are prohibited unless ordered by a regulatory authority for health and safety reasons (i.e. public health inspector or WCB etc.).
  • Private & Commercial pressure washing (car washes etc.) Private use is not allowed, Commercial use is allowed.
  • Using water for filling (outdoor decorative features, fountains, etc.) is not allowed. 
  • Using water for filling (swimming pools, wading pools, hot tubs, etc.) is not allowed. 
  • Using water for construction purposes (grading, compaction, dust control, etc.) is not allowed. 
  • Water sharing- At the discretion of the Council.
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