WHEREAS the Canada-Alberta Growing Forward Initiative provides funds under the water program to support the implementation of effective risk management strategies for Alberta agricultural producers;
WHEREAS the stated purpose of the Water Management program is to provide technical assistance and incentive for the creation of a long-term water management plan for individual farms while also providing financial assistance for those producers wishing to carry out the improvements which support water security that are specified in those plans;
WHEREAS the current list of eligible projects under this program excludes tie-ins to rural water distribution systems;
WHEREAS the current list of eligible projects focuses on well drilling as the solution for domestic water needs which in some areas of the province cannot be considered a secure source of domestic water for producers due to the poor quality and quantity of groundwater as well as the near absence of water quality testing;
WHEREAS there may be instances whereby a long-term water management plan specifies the improvement which would result in the most secure source of domestic water as a tie-in to a rural water distribution system which would result in a reliable source of water treated to the standards of the Province of Alberta;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties encourage the Province of Alberta in coordination with the Government of Canada to amend the list of eligible projects within the Growing Forward Water Program to include tie-ins to rural water distribution systems.
Launched in 2009, the Growing Forward Initiative was developed in order to better position Canada’s agricultural sector for success. As a joint initiative between the federal and provincial governments, Growing Forward offers funding in several program areas to agricultural producers in Canada. This includes funding for the effective risk management of domestic water for agricultural producers through the Growing Forward Water Program. As published on the Alberta Growing Forward website the water program’s main purpose is to encourage producers to develop long-term water management plans for their farms and to partially fund projects which are identified in that plan. This takes the form of a cost sharing arrangement that provides funding for 1/3 of eligible project costs up to a maximum of $5,000. The process requires that the applicant complete a long-term water management [lan for his operation, submit it to Agriculture and Rural Development, where a water specialist reviews and approves the plan. Once this is complete the applicant is then able to apply for funding under the program. The Growing Forward Water Program is very similar to the Canada-Alberta Farm Water Source Program which preceded it. Both programs offered funding of 1/3 of project costs up to $5,000 per producer and both encouraged the development of farm water risk management plans. Additionally in both programs the projects applied for should be identified in the plan. Project eligibility in both programs is also very similar with one major difference, the exclusion of fees for tie-ins to rural water distribution systems. This is an issue of major concern for Starland County as in the past this funding has been of great benefit in providing our farm residents with a secure source of safe drinking water. For Alberta producers having a safe and secure source of domestic drinking water is a critical part of any plan for long-term water management. It is for this reason that many of the farm residents of Starland County had chosen to utilize the funding available in the Canada-Alberta Farm Water Source Program to tie into rural water distribution systems which provide them with clean treated water from provincially licensed water treatment plants. This was also the only option for many Starland County residents as a study performed by MPE Engineering in 2002 revealed serious problems in both the quality and quantity of groundwater available to our farmers. Due to the situation of insufficient groundwater quality and quantity in many areas of the province, the Growing Forward Water Program as it currently functions does not meet the needs of many Alberta producers. Tie-ins to rural distribution networks often cost well over $15,000, a fee which is a serious hardship for many Alberta producers. While tie-ins for rural distribution networks are expensive, well projects for which funding is available for test drilling, new pumps and well casings, electroseismology tests, and disinfection of new wells can run thousands of dollars more and in many cases would yield poor results. When considering that there are currently no other government programs funding rural water distribution networks, a $5,000 subsidy provided to Alberta producers who want to make the large private investment necessary to secure the future of their farms would be of tremendous benefit to the future of agriculture in Alberta.
18-08F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to establish specific funding and granting programs for the installation of new and expanded raw water systems, along with the replacement of previously installed rural raw water supply systems within rural Alberta.
17-08F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta establish a program similar to the Water/Wastewater Partnership Funding Program for providing potable water to rural residences in Alberta.
9-08S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties encourage the Province of Alberta to initiate a complete review of the Code of Practice for a Waterworks System Consisting Solely of a Water Distribution System, and that the review accommodates the operation of rural and smaller community water systems.
Agriculture and Rural Development:
The central infrastructure of most rural water pipelines in Alberta is already supported by a combination of federal, provincial, and municipal funding. As such, hook-up costs for rural water pipelines were excluded from the current suite of projects eligible under Growing Forward in favour of projects that are not currently supported by existing programming.
Agriculture and Rural Development will be actively negotiating with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to include rural water supply programs in the next Growing Forward program, which is expected to commence in 2013.
Contact: Jamie Wuite, Head
Farm Water Supply Section, Irrigation and Farm Water Division
Growing Forward 2 was launched April 1, 2013 marking an additional five-year term of the program. The AAMDC participated in information sessions regarding the development of the Growing Forward 2 agreement and at a previous meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, encouraged that a recommendation for tie-ins to rural water distribution systems be included as eligible projects to meet rural needs. Growing Forward 2 includes a new regional water supply program that will assess and develop water supplies in regions where traditional on-farm water supplies are not reliable. If appropriate, these initiatives will provide the opportunity to develop multi-user water supply systems so that a lack of on-farm water supply is not a barrier to production or sustainability. With this change, the AAMDC deems this resolution as Accepted in Principle and will monitor the progress of the new regional water supply program.