+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 6-03S

Small Water Systems

January 1, 2003
Expiry Date:
March 31, 2006
Active Status:
Vote Results:
Carried as amended

WHEREAS many smaller communities have had water systems for a long time; AND WHEREAS the history of these systems shows few, if any, outbreaks of diseases; AND WHEREAS Alberta Environment is continually setting higher standards of treatment that are costing those communities hundreds of thousands of dollars;AND WHEREAS these smaller communities often do not have the economies of scale to afford the necessary upgrades and the higher cost of operations;AND WHEREAS most of the water used within these systems is not actually consumed by people;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to meet with stakeholders to review small water systems, with the goals of: 1. determining whether the new standards are necessary; and 2. considering the possibility of defining and setting different standards for small water systems.

Member Background:

Many municipalities run small water systems and have been struggling with the new standards set by Alberta Environment. While large systems may have the economies of scale to afford the upgrades and increasing operating costs, most hamlets and probably most villages cannot.Since about 95% of water used is not actually consumed by humans, it is questionable whether all water should be treated to such a high standard. For this reason, it is suggested that in-home processes be used to actually treat water to drinking water standards. There are several options available, including purchased bottled water, but Alberta Environment has thus far rejected the idea because the department cannot control quality and maintenance. Oddly enough, for other rural residents, there are no requirements at all regarding water quality. So this already sets up a double standard. Why is Alberta Environment concerned that hamlet residents will not maintain their systems properly, but does not have the same concern for other rural residents? Therefore, it is suggested that a lower standard be adopted for smaller systems, where residents are advised of the risk (if there actually is any) and are then allowed to decide how they will get their drinking water.

RMA Background:

The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue. However, the AAMDC Board of Directors has had informal discussions with Alberta Environment, Alberta Municipal Affairs, and the Alberta Research Council regarding the challenges facing small urban and rural communities with respect to water infrastructure, and has expressed the Associations interest in working in partnership with these entities to find practical and constructive approaches to addressing these challenges.

Provincial Ministries:
Treasury Board and Finance,
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
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