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22nd July 2015
MD of Pincher Creek asks residents to reduce water consumption

By John Stoesser, Pincher Creek Echo
Friday, July 17, 2015 3:59:49 MDT PM

From too much water one year to not enough the next.

The MD of Pincher Creek asked residents to start water saving efforts after receiving a low level alert for the Castle River from the province on Wednesday, July 15.

“There are a number of things we have the authority to do,” said Leo Reedyk, public works director for the MD. “At this point it's, 'Hey folks, the rest of Alberta is in a drought condition.' You look at the crops here and we've been very fortunate but the rivers are low from no snow in the mountains.”

An MD letter to Cowley and Lundbreck residents indicated dry conditions from high summer temperatures and low rainfall totals also contributed to the water level issue. In their correspondence, the district asked people to reduce watering their lawns and gardens, especially during daytime hours, avoid watering streets and hard surfaces and trim back on water use within homes.

The province cancelled some of the MD's temporary diversion licences for uses like watering roads. The MD has not enforced conservation efforts on village residents but could require people to engage in more stringent measures is the situation worsens.

“This could be a moot point,” Reedyk said, indicating if recent rainfall continues the local situation could rebound.

“But if we don't get a whole bunch of snow and it's an open winter we could be dealing with water shortages right through until next spring,” he said.

Attempts to reduce water consumption should help for the time being.

“We will see that effect almost immediately when people are using less water,” Reedyk said.

“We produce water to keep the reservoirs full,” he said. “On a daily basis the water operators can tell that we made so much water... We can tell week to week that people are conserving water versus not.”

The MD will include a package of water-saving tips in their next invoice to residents. Some of these hints include not running water while brushing teeth and cleaning dishes and washing vehicles less.

Currently, the MD's water intake for Cowley and Lundbreck is located on the Castle River. It was damaged during the 2013 flooding.

But the municipality's water intake woes could turn into water flows soon enough. It recently received an Alberta Community Resilience Program grant of $1.7 million to move the uptake to the Oldman Reservoir.

“The fact that we got the grant from the government is a good news story that dovetails into what's happening,” Reedyk said. “The exact reason why the government gave it to us is we are susceptible in a drought situation.”

The grant proposal estimated a project completion date of fall 2015.

Recently, drought conditions prompted a state of disaster in central regions of the province.

On Tuesday, Parkland County Council unanimously voted to declare a state of agricultural disaster as moisture levels in some areas of Alberta are at the lowest levels recorded in the last 50 years and crops in some areas of Parkland County are also being ravaged by grasshoppers.

With files from Matt Dykstra/Edmonton Sun.