Alix Council: Alert system for water conservation approved

Alix village council approved a multi-stage alert system to let its residents and businesses know how much water they should conserve. The resolution was passed at the May 1 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented councillors with a proposed system for notifying the public about severe drought conditions and to what extent the public should conserve water if necessary.

“The province has been actively discussing and taking action regarding Alberta’s low water levels,” stated White in her memo to council.

“Municipalities have received numerous emails, workbooks and information presentations on the subject. We are now being asked to start taking steps toward conservation as water license holders,” she added, noting the letter from the Environment ministry laying out certain expectations.

White stated, in accordance with the ministry’s letter, the Village of Alix has made a request of the public to voluntarily reduce water consumption along with a utility bill insert and a colour-coded information sheet.

The information sheet would be circulated to Alix residents and feature four stages, limited water restriction, partial water restriction, restriction and complete water restriction.

“Once the information sheet has been distributed, we should easily be able to communicate what stage of restriction the village is at by posting the appropriate colour-coded posters online and throughout the village,” stated the CAO.

It also seems, noted the CAO, the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission is cutting members some slack by easing water rules. Typically, member communities must provide the commission with a water estimate once a year and use at least 90 per cent of that estimate; if the community doesn’t hit the 90 per cent threshold, they’re billed for it anyway. White noted those rules are being relaxed a bit during the drought.

The CAO also pointed out the village is capable of tracking how much water the community is using and can compare that to past years.

“We will be comparing this information to 2024 usage throughout May and regularly posting the comparison so residents are aware of our progress,” she stated.

After perusing the letter Mayor Rob Fehr noted the provincial government’s suggestions were firmly worded; he said it seemed to him the province was suggesting if municipalities don’t follow suggestions, the provincial government will make it mandatory.

Councillor Ed Cole asked whether the water collected from a rain barrel, for example, is part of water restrictions.

The CAO stated no, since using rain water doesn’t place strain on the municipal water system.

Councillors discussed a topic that’s been cropping up in other community’s discussions, the issue of well-meaning people reporting water use they feel violates conservation rules.

Coun. Janice Besuijen stated it would be quite easy to prove someone’s been using water from a rain barrel for their yard work.

Councillors also discussed locations Alix residents might be able to buy rain barrels.

It was noted that in the past some residents have diverted water out of Alix Lake; the CAO noted this is illegal anytime, not just in drought conditions. White stated anyone taking water from Alix Lake needs a license.

Coun. Tim Besuijen observed the moisture situation isn’t as bad in central Alberta as it is in southern Alberta.

It was also noted municipalities and most of the users within are not considered “large” water users by the provincial government.

The CAO also confirmed she will have the mayor and council notified of any change to the drought alert stage.

Councillors accepted the water conservation report as information.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.