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WHEREAS the Province of Alberta supports rural sustainability and agriculture through various programs; and
WHEREAS the Water for Life Program stresses the availability of potable water for all Alberta residents and is a core need in rural areas of the province; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has provided funding for regional water lines from urban centres to rural areas for increased co-operation and efficiencies; and
WHEREAS provincial funding is not provided to rural residents along these regional water lines through the Water for Life Program, thus making the cost for these residents unaffordable; and
WHEREAS Water for Life Program funding assistance would be highly beneficial to water co-op associations to connect more rural residents to regional water lines to enhance quality of life, safety, and rural sustainability;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the Government of Alberta to provide capital grant funding for rural water supply through the Water for Life Program to connect as many rural residents as possible to regional water lines for the provision of safe potable drinking water.
The County of Lethbridge has three (3) major regional waterlines from the City of Lethbridge. One line runs from the city east through the Town of Coaldale and ending in the Hamlet of Chin. The Town of Coaldale was having tremendous difficulties in maintaining a safe potable water supply for its residents from the Stafford Lake Reservoir, an irrigation storage reservoir. With the city/county regional water line, this problem was alleviated. In addition, McCain Foods was also supplied with city water at its Chin plant.
The County of Lethbridge Rural Water Co-op was established and only through extraordinary efforts and without provincial funding, were county residents along this line connected. Costs to connect any additional residents today have increased significantly and many people are now deprived of potable water from the regional line. Provincial funding assistance for the main regional line has greatly enhanced both economic development and provided potable water to the Town of Coaldale.
The second line running from the City of Lethbridge north to the Hamlet of Turin was funded through ICAP with the federal and provincial governments providng two-thirds funding. The line served the Hamlets of Diamond City, Shaughnessy, Iron Springs and Turin in addition to the Sunnyrose Cheese Plant. The line was oversized to eventually accommodate 660 rural connections.
The third regional line goes from Coalhurst (extension of city line) to the Hamlet of Monarch which is 90 per cent funded through the Water for Life Program. The pipeline was oversized to accommodate additional water connections to county residents along the line.
Pertaining to the second and third pipelines, there was a will from county rural residents to connect to these lines; however, infrastructure and capital costs made it unaffordable to do so. A North County Water Co-op was established and great efforts were made to acquire provincial/federal grant monies to turn a vision into reality.
In 2009, after numerous applications and discussions with federal and provincial representatives, Building Canada Economic Stimulus Grant Funding in the amount of $6 million (representing two-thirds project total) was announced. Today, the Co-op has been so successful that all units have virtually been subscribed and now, per unit costs have risen. Seven hundred and thirteen (713) rural families will have potable city water provision. This is where Water for Life Grant Funding assistance would be a huge benefit to continue connecting our rural residents to regional water lines already in place.
10-10F: 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.
7-09F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to investigate various funding options which will provide additional grants to municipalities who provide potable water to small hamlets and existing small growth areas, and which will result in easing the resident’s financial burden associated with mandated water treatment facility upgrades.
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.
Environment and Water:
Alberta Environment and Water is responsible for ensuring water co-ops maintain safe water quality and uphold regulatory requirements under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Water Act. Under Alberta Transportation’s Regional Systems Initiative and Water Strategy Initiative, regional commissions are eligible for funding for pipelines and feasibility studies, and expanding water treatment plants. Although funding under this initiative is not available for privately-owned water co-operatives, we understand that grant assistance for the development of water systems, such as a co-op, may be available through the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration’s Rural Water Development Program.
Agriculture and Rural Development:
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) is aware of the current lack of funding to support multi-user water systems in rural Alberta. We are currently investigating options for provincial and joint federal/provincial support of such systems.
The Government of Alberta is currently evaluating the needs of rural water distribution systems (Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development). The AAMDC will be advised as to the outcome of this evaluation. At this time, the Water for Life Program will remain focused on its primary goal of completing high priority, regional water/wastewater infrastructure.
The 2013-14 provincial budget included Water for Life funding was decreased nearly 50 per cent to $74.5 million and was increased minimally in the 2014-15 budget. At previous meetings with the Ministers of Transportation and Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), the AAMDC highlighted this resolution and the issue of changes to potable water funding for small hamlets and existing small growth areas. Earlier this year, ESRD hosted a series of “water conversations” where guided discussions on key issues regarding water in Alberta took place. Rural residential access was discussed and it is anticipated that the Government will release a “What We Heard” document later this year highlighting those discussions, the last of which is scheduled to take place in April 2014. The AAMDC will continue to advocate on the need for increased funding for the Water for Life Program.