Alix village council heard a report that a nearby water storage facility is seeing “normal” water levels as drought warnings loom over Alberta. The report was made at the May 1 regular meeting of council.

During regular committee reports Coun. Tim Besuijen, also chair of the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission, reported that the Dickson Dam, located about 50km southwest of the City of Red Deer, had information that allayed some fears about a spring drought in central Alberta. 

“As part of the chair report I reached out to the Dickson Dam operational personnel for an update on status of dam,” stated Besuijen in his committee report to council. 

He noted the dam personnel use this information to address the outflow of the dam over the year to maintain sufficient water for downstream users.

The operators report stated, “At present the reservoir is approximately one metre below the average elevation for this date. For some extra context on this date in 2022 and 2023 the reservoir was below average 2.4m and 3.9m respectively.

“Our inflow today is calculated at about 24.3cm and outflow 16.3cm. Currently our reservoir is rising slowly due to the local plain’s runoff.

“On a positive note our mountain snowpack is doing well at the two snow pillow stations we monitor for our basin,” stated the report, which noted the Limestone location was described as “well above average” snow pack while the Skoki location was described as “average” snow pack.

Councillors accepted the report as information.

Fifty year milestone

Councillors unanimously approved the addition of a 50-year milestone to the municipality’s policy that handles such events. They read a memo prepared by staff member Chelsie Giesbrecht.

“The option of adding in a 50-year milestone plaque and defining what ‘years of service’ meant for those who applied and council directed administration to update the policy and bring to a future meeting for review,” stated Giesbrecht’s report.

“The policy reflects the addition of a 50-years service plaque for the inside of a building and 100 years service plaque for the outside of the building. 

The definition of ‘years of service’ means that no matter the location or ownership of the service, the recognition plaques request can be submitted as long as there was no disruption to service.”

During discussion Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White clarified it didn’t matter if a business, for example, existed for 50 years with different owners, it would still qualify for the plaque as long as it was in operation for 50 continuous years.

The policy applies to businesses and service clubs such as churches, societies, boards and organizations. 

Staff also noted the village would pay the tab for these plaques which were estimated cost between $80 to $100 all told.

Municipal census

Councillors were informed the Village of Alix will conduct its own census beginning May 7. The CAO noted village staff will be conducting the census.

It was noted the census will be short and take a resident only about two minutes and involves no paperwork. Census data is important for the municipality in applying for grants and other programs.

Water leak

During his committee report Coun. Besuijen also noted the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission dealt with a recent leak. 

“Update on leak around Edberg…coupling had let go,” stated Besuijen’s report.

“This is the new construction and was pressure tested prior to commissioning, unsure of why [it] failed.”

Alert system for water conservation approved by Village of Alix council

Alix village council approved a multi-stage alert system to let its residents and businesses know how much water they should conserve. The resolution was passed at the May 1 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented councillors with a proposed system for notifying the public about severe drought conditions and to what extent the public should conserve water if necessary. 

“The province has been actively discussing and taking action regarding Alberta’s low water levels,” stated White in her memo to council.

“Municipalities have received numerous emails, workbooks and information presentations on the subject. We are now being asked to start taking steps toward conservation as water license holders,” she added, noting the letter from the Environment ministry laying out certain expectations.

White stated, in accordance with the ministry’s letter, the Village of Alix has made a request of the public to voluntarily reduce water consumption along with a utility bill insert and a colour-coded information sheet.

The information sheet would be circulated to Alix residents and feature four stages, limited water restriction, partial water restriction, restriction and complete water restriction. 

“Once the information sheet has been distributed, we should easily be able to communicate what stage of restriction the village is at by posting the appropriate colour-coded posters online and throughout the village,” stated the CAO.

It also seems, noted the CAO, the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission is cutting members some slack by easing water rules. Typically, member communities must provide the commission with a water estimate once a year and use at least 90 per cent of that estimate; if the community doesn’t hit the 90 per cent threshold, they’re billed for it anyway. White noted those rules are being relaxed a bit during the drought.

The CAO also pointed out the village is capable of tracking how much water the community is using and can compare that to past years. 

“We will be comparing this information to 2024 usage throughout May and regularly posting the comparison so residents are aware of our progress,” she stated.

After perusing the letter Mayor Rob Fehr noted the provincial government’s suggestions were firmly worded; he said it seemed to him the province was suggesting if municipalities don’t follow suggestions, the provincial government will make it mandatory.

Councillor Ed Cole asked whether the water collected from a rain barrel, for example, is part of water restrictions. 

The CAO stated no, since using rain water doesn’t place strain on the municipal water system.

Councillors discussed a topic that’s been cropping up in other community’s discussions, the issue of well-meaning people reporting water use they feel violates conservation rules.

Coun. Janice Besuijen stated it would be quite easy to prove someone’s been using water from a rain barrel for their yard work.

Councillors also discussed locations Alix residents might be able to buy rain barrels.

It was noted that in the past some residents have diverted water out of Alix Lake; the CAO noted this is illegal anytime, not just in drought conditions. White stated anyone taking water from Alix Lake needs a license.

Coun. Tim Besuijen observed the moisture situation isn’t as bad in central Alberta as it is in southern Alberta.

It was also noted municipalities and most of the users within are not considered “large” water users by the provincial government.

The CAO also confirmed she will have the mayor and council notified of any change to the drought alert stage.

Councillors accepted the water conservation report as information.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 16, 2024 at 11:04

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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