WHEREAS rural municipalities have initiated, developed and installed rural raw water distribution systems within the Province of Alberta which provide a reliable water source for household, agriculture, livestock and agri-business use, and provides a lifeline in sustaining the agricultural community in rural Alberta; and
WHEREAS the economic, social and environmental health of rural Alberta is either directly or indirectly affected by the supply of good quality water, as well as the ability to increase primary and secondary production, which is a goal of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development; and
WHEREAS municipalities have worked in conjunction with rural water co-ops in developing this essential utility to enhance and provide economic opportunities in rural Alberta; and
WHEREAS many people in rural Alberta require improved water supplies, however substantial construction and material costs prohibit this development, and further, raw water lines installed in years past are in need of replacement, upgrading and up-sizing due to wear and increased demands in rural Alberta;
WHEREAS provincial grants and financial assistance is available for potable water lines and facilities throughout the province for urban communities,
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.
The Alberta government, through Alberta Transportation and Utilities, once promoted the formation of many rural water coops by financially assisting the coops in the construction of domestic water lines. These water lines serviced many farms throughout the County of Warner and the province. This program benefitted these ratepayers by insuring these farmsteads now had a reliable source of quality water. Since the program ended, those who were unable to belong to a coop have been desperately trying to establish a source of water within their region, but have found the cost beyond their financial ability. Also, many rural water lines have reached or are close to reaching the end of their life expectancy and will require replacement in the near future. With the financial assistance of the Province and possibly the Federal Governments, coupled with that of the landowner, a guaranteed supply of quality raw water would again be available. Water improves an individual’s way of life, has the potential to increase primary and secondary production and allows development in an area that might not otherwise blossom and grow.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 2-07F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC request that the Government of Alberta support the full cost of construction for regional waterlines throughout the Province of Alberta, and further that the Government of Alberta remove the current inequity by re-committing full support for partially-funded waterlines.
Resolution 8-07S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta change the procedure on access to potable water and wastewater treatment systems so that all municipalities have equal access to this provincial resource through their closest treatment facility within the same sub-basin.
Resolution ER2-06S:THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that Alberta Environment undertake groundwater resource mapping for all of Alberta, and not only concentrate on central Alberta.
Resolution 17-05F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta review the AMWWP eligibility criteria to include Business-Industrial Parks and country residential developments.
This resolution identifies a related issue with water systems resulting in a specific burden to rural municipalities.
See also the Fall 2008 resolution Rural Potable Water – Establish an Alberta Farm Water Grant Program.
Transportation: The issue of rural water co-ops falls under the purview of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, which is the ministry responsible for handling these co-ops.
Alberta Environment is aware that the Water/Wastewater Partnership Funding Program does not provide Government of Alberta funding for approved systems serving rural subdivisions and co-ops. Funding under the Water for Life Regional Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Initiative targets regional commissions for municipal drinking water and wastewater and does not include raw water supplies. Alberta Transportation administers these two funding programs.Alberta Environment, as part of an interdepartmental committee, will work with Alberta Transportation to review the eligibility criteria for these two programs and the possibility of the inclusion of raw water.
Agriculture and Rural Development:
In the 1980s, water co-ops received funding assistance from programs under the former Alberta Transportation and Utilities ministry to assist in the development of water systems in rural Alberta. Funding under these programs has not been available for several years.
The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration’s (PFRA) Canada Alberta Water Supply Expansion Program, a federally funded program, has also been a source of funding for water co-ops. The deadline for applying for funding under this program was July 25, 2008, with funding commitments to be completed by March 31, 2009.
Rural water co-ops may also have been able to acquire funding from the $88 million joint federal provincial funding program, Canada-Alberta Building Canada Fund – Communities Component, administered by Alberta Transportation. Water co-ops would need the support of the municipality, as the municipality is required to make the application. The deadline for applications under this program was March 15, 2009.There are currently no plans within Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to provide grant support to develop, extend, or upgrade water facilities.
To date, the Government of Alberta has not yet established specific funding and granting programs for raw water systems. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development advised the association that the Government of Canada has declined proposals from Alberta to replace the Canada-Alberta Water Supply Expansion Program, and raw water pipelines are not currently supported by Alberta’s infrastructure funding programs. The association has been advised that Alberta Environment is currently investigating rural water supply options. The AAMDC will closely monitor the results of these investigations to see if they satisfy the intent of this resolution.
In February 2011, the Government of Alberta advised that it is undertaking a pilot program in the Peace region to investigate solutions to regional water supply issues for rural residents and agricultural producers. This is a joint initiative with several ministries and municipalities, and could be expanded to other areas of the province. As such, the AAMDC has changed the status of this resolution to Accepted in Principle. At a recent meeting with the Minister of Environment, the AAMDC reiterated its support for raw water line funding, and urged Alberta Environment to work with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to work towards this as a solution to rural water supply issues.