May 28th, 2024

Council approves water conservation strategy

By Lethbridge Herald on April 24, 2024.

Herald photo - Water flows through a channel back into the Oldman just downstream from the water treatment plant in the city’s river valley.


Lethbridge city council on Tuesday voted unanimously to accept the recommendation by its Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee to accept administration’s water conservation plan and strategy.

The vote came after the original recommendation was slightly amended on Tuesday.

The strategy was addressed on April 11 with the SPC which consists of mayor and all members of council.

The resolution before council called on council to accept the plan and strategy and the updated water rationing plan.

It also directs administration to engage in the Industrial, Commercial, Institutional area as they draft the potential contents of an amending bylaw to Water Bylaw 3999 for council’s consideration needed to give effect to the terms of this water conservation plan and strategy (which includes scaling water rates) by the fourth quarter of 2024 through an Economic and Finance SPC meeting. And it also approves the voluntary, economic and regulatory initiatives as presented with incentive programs for rain barrels, water-efficient toilets and xeriscapy contingent on future available funding.

During discussion of the matter, which was pulled from the consent agenda, numerous questions were asked of city administration by council including about whether vegetable gardens should be considered in any rationing strategy and whether city golf courses are also bound by any restrictions that may be implemented.

The majority of golf courses in Lethbridge, said manager of Engineering and Environment Mark Svenson, don’t get their water through the City.

They either have their own licence to pull water from the Oldman River or they have agreements with the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District, he said in an interview after council’s vote.

“The golf courses may be in the city but their water doesn’t come from the City licence so we don’t have jurisdiction,” said Svenson.

But if they have their own licence, the province is committed to reaching out to smaller water holders to encourage them on a provincial level to meet the same requirements as the water sharing agreement the City of Lethbridge signed onto, he added.

“Ongoing changes in climate and weather patterns have led to water scarcity and drought concerns in southern Alberta. While the Government of Alberta has recently asked municipalities to develop plans to address water scarcity, the City of Lethbridge has begun work to proactively address these concerns with the development of this Water Conservation Plan and Strategy (WCPAS) and updating the Water Rationing Action Plan (WRAP),” says an administration report to council.

On Friday, the provincial government announced a water-sharing agreement to respond to severe drought conditions in the province. The agreements will only be implemented or activated if they needed and will be adjusted as drought conditions change.

Four water basins subscribe to the agreement with the City of Lethbridge being part of the South Saskatchewan River basin and the Oldman Reservoir.

Director Infrastructure Services Joel Sanchez told media last week that Lethbridge, along with the City of Medicine Hat,Lethbridge County and the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District have committed to not call priority on water use.

Sanchez said implementation of the water sharing agreements ensure all communities work together to reduce consumption.

The three municipalities – Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge County are committed to lowering consumption by 10 per cent.

A report presented to Economic and Finance SPC on April 11 stated that 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 despite recent snow and rainfall. But neither is anything close to normal.

The City wants to see a 20 per cent reduction in water consumption by 2030 and currently residents are still under the voluntary restrictions imposed last August.

The province might decide to enact the water sharing agreements as soon as the beginning of May, Sanchez told council Tuesday.

So by May 15 the City could be moving into the first stage of its action plan, Sanchez said. This will depend on snowpack and water levels in reservoirs by the end of April, he noted.

Under Stage 1 of the City watering action plan, several actions would be prohibited.

Those include any runoff, washing vehicles outside of a carwash, washing outdoor surfaces and filling private in-ground or portable pools larger than 3,000 litres.

Residents will be able to water for up to two hours between 6 and 10 p.m. on designated days. For residents, those are blue or black cart collection days, for the ICI sector Saturdays and regional sector Mondays.

If Stage 2 has to be implemented, watering of new lawns, trees and shrubs will be allowed if planted less than 10 days prior. People would be allowed to water only one hour between 6 and 10 p.m. on their designated day.

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Citi Zen

Such lack of foresight by the City. We are going to see a whole city of dead trees. Anyone with an underground sprinkler system will have less than 10 minutes of water per zone, or per section of lawn.
Furthermore, what’s the difference if I wash my car at home, I still use the same amount, or less, of water as a commercial wash.


The irony and the cop out. No jurisdiction over the golf courses. Lol. They get their water from the same dried up river.


Car washes recycle and reuse the water. The water recycling system starts by collecting the contaminated water from wash bays. The recycling process begins with separating solid wastes and sedimentation, then filtering the water through a sophisticated car wash filter system. This process removes solid contaminants, leaving behind clear, reusable water.

Citi Zen

Wrong. Not all car wash water is recycled. They use city water to make up for losses and peak usage times.

Citi Zen

They forgot about the laundry. Shouldn’t everyone be required to wash all laundry at a commercial laundromat? Just like car washing. I use less water to wash my car than a single load of laundry.
Such a lack of foresight by Council.

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