May 25th, 2024

Water report presented to committee

By Lethbridge Herald on April 12, 2024.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

The Oldman River reservoir is only about 32 per cent of capacity while the level of the St. Mary’s reservoir has increased to about 20 per cent full.

These levels are despite recent snow and rainfall.

Neither is anything close to normal, Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee of Lethbridge city council heard Thursday afternoon.

Managing of Engineering and Environment Mark Svenson told the SPC, which consists of the mayor and all council members, that dry conditions in recent years has increased the risk of drought in 2024 with recent snowfall and moisture not yet doing any service in fixing that situation.

After lengthy discussions, the SPC unanimously voted to recommend that council (essentially itself) approve the water conservation plan and strategy, direct administration to engage the ICI (Industrial, Commercial, Institutional) area “as they draft the potential contents of an amending bylaw to the Water Bylaw 3999 for council’s consideration needed to give effect” to the terms of the plan and strategy – which includes scaling water rates and the water rationing action plan.

The motion also called on council to approve the voluntary, economic and regulatory initiatives as they were presented with the incentive programs for rain barrels, water-efficient toilets and xeriscaping contingent on future available funding. 

The City wants to see a 20 per cent reduction in water consumption by 2030.

Water conservation is “looking to change the long-term behaviour of individuals in looking at how they use water and where they can conserve water and not waste water,” said Svenson.

Water rationing comes into regulatory measures that can be put into place to limit the amount or timing of water being utilized, he said.

From October to April, there is a steady amount of water used – about 1.5 billions of litres used per month but in July last year, that jumped up to almost 3.4 billion litres.

To put that into perspective, he said water usage in July would have drained Henderson Lake about five times or Henderson pool 2,400 times. 

City water usage was about 20 million cubic metres of water last year. Of that 40 per cent is residential use, 36 per cent is commercial/industrial/institutional use and 20 per cent is regional while three per cent is irrigation.

A cubic metre of water is 1,000 litres of water, the equivalent of 2,000 small water bottles, Svenson said.

In 2023, water usage was 531 litres per person per day, he said. When that is broken down into residential and ICI, residential use is about 232 l/pp/d which Svenson said astounded him a bit when he was doing the math. 

With 2023 numbers as background, the City has created targets which is to reach a 20 per cent reduction in water usage by 2020 which means reducing the residential average of 232 l/pp/d down to 186. And down from 299 on the ICI side to 239.

To achieve those targets, the City has come up with voluntary, economic and regulatory measures.

Voluntary efforts can encompass such simple acts as replacing older fixtures with new ones, using rain barrels where possible, different landscaping techniques and even fixing leaks which is “a big one,” he said.

If a toiler flapper gets stuck in the ‘up’ position, the toilet can leak up to 1,000 litres a day, Svenson said.

Svenson discussed potential economic options including the introduction of scaling water rates.

The average residential consumption is 19.48 cubic metres with the cost currently $1.327 per cubic metre.

If scaled rates were to be implemented, the majority of users wouldn’t be affected, said a report to the SPC.

The report showed 74 per cent of residential users use no more than 20 cubic metres with 17 per cent using up to 35 cubic metres while only nine per cent of residents use 35 cubic metres or more.

Of ICI consumers, 93 per cent use up to 500 cubic metres. Only 0.25 per cent use more than 25,000 cubic metres.

The report also showed the four different stages of the city’s water rationing action plan which increase in restrictions as severity of the water situation worsens.

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Conservation is the only way to accomplish reduced water use. Growing up in east Alberta we were always, it seemed, in drought conditions. Remedy cut back on water use, you know the old mantras, if it’s yellow let it mellow, pee twice, flush once. There are many alternatives to reduce water use 50 years later. Timers for lawns, low flow shower heads, 1/2 toilets, etc. Just let the great brains at City Hall think that it is “good” idea to hand out our dough to “incentivize” (word of the month) the inconsiderate, the entitled and generally speaking the unaware that water doesn’t flow from a tree. Time to grow up

Last edited 1 month ago by buckwheat

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