WHEREAS water resources are essential to the personal health of individuals and the economic growth of a community;AND WHEREAS in the past five years there have been significant pressures on water resources;AND WHEREAS the present climate fluctuation is causing severe water shortage in the province;AND WHEREAS both urban and rural municipalities are working together to develop regional utility systems to provide water;AND WHEREAS the provincial Water for Life strategy has identified the need to work in partnership for development of water resources for continued economic growth and personal needs;AND WHEREAS rural municipalities do not have a funding program for rural residential water needs;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to undertake the development and funding of a Regional Utility Services Program for both rural and small urban municipalities;AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that this program be developed and in place as soon as possible to ensure water resource protection;AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Alberta as part of the Regional Utility Grant Program invest in the Rural Service Program to individual rural residents similar to the present Alberta Transportation programs.
The Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership provides cost-shared funding to eligible municipalities to assist in the construction of municipal water supply and treatment and wastewater treatment and disposal facilities. Various initiatives have been included in the program to ensure the needs of Alberta municipalities are met.The program ensures that Albertans have access to safe water supplies and adequate wastewater treatment. While this program enhances life in smaller urban centres, rural residents living outside of hamlets are not eligible under the program.Funding is provided to cities (under 45,000 population), towns, villages, summer villages, regional commissions and eligible hamlets within rural municipalities for the construction of high-priority water supply and treatment and wastewater treatment and disposal facilities. Water distribution and/or sewage collection systems are not eligible for assistance.Funding is provided as a percentage of eligible approved project costs. For those municipalities under 1,000 population, projects are cost-shared on a 75% government/25% municipality basis. For communities over 1,000 population (to a maximum of 45,000 population), grant percentage ratios are calculated by a formula. The percentage ratio declines as the population increases.As recently as 20 years ago, the program had over $150 million in available funds. Today, as the need for rural potable water grows, the funding is just a fraction, while the program criteria remain unchanged.Rural residents from across Alberta are now recognizing that water is an essential commodity. Many rural economic development opportunities are restricted due to the lack of this valuable resource. As a result of this need, there are many rural municipalities that are in the planning and/or design stages of developing potable water systems for their ratepayers. Under present conditions, municipalities must have had to be successful in receiving green funds under the Infrastructure Canada Alberta Program, however this program was oversubscribed. The new Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund appears promising, however funding under this program will come under extreme pressure due to the number and size of applications. What Albertans need is a made in Alberta solution, with adequate funding being available to ensure program success.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue. However, Resolution 9-01S, endorsed at the 2001 spring convention, calls on the Government of Alberta to give municipalities the opportunity to utilize their own workforce and equipment under the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership program (administered by Alberta Transportation). In its response, the province stated that Alberta Transportation will continue to support the use of private sector forces for construction and engineering activities related to the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership, although the ministry was undertaking a review of the program later in 2001.Resolution 17-99F, endorsed at the fall 1999 convention, calls on the provincial government to partner with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) to provide assistance toward the construction or expansion of rural water supply systems. The provincial response stated that there were no plans to reinstate the Alberta Farm Water Grant Program. However, the Alberta Farm Water Program was initiated in 2001.