Due to the lack of moisture, the Town of Drayton Valley is putting together a plan to help conserve water if there is a drought next spring.

Shelley Terry, the General Manager of Municipal Services, told council at the January 10 meeting that management is working to create a drought management plan. They are also working on a water restriction policy in case they ever need to trigger one.

On December 20, Rebecca Schulz, the Minister of Environment and Protected Areas for the province, sent out a letter asking municipalities to begin preparing for a possible drought in the spring or summer.

However, Terry says the Town was already looking into putting something together prior to receiving the letter from the minister.

“We had already begun the conversations internally at the end of 2023. Given the very dry spring that we had and with the lack of moisture received at that point, it was already being discussed,” said Terry in an email interview.

The last time Drayton Valley had a water restriction put in place was in 2014 when there was a mechanical failure at the old water treatment plant. The Town asked residents to refrain from watering their lawns or washing their vehicles until they could address the problem.

Terry says those same requests will likely be implemented into the policy the Town is putting together.

“We will be looking at incorporating some of these types of activity restrictions in the policy,” she says.

According to Terry, the province didn’t have specific guidelines in place as each municipality faces different risks.

“Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEPA) won’t know those risks for the Town of Drayton Valley so it is up to us to assess our unique risks and prepare mitigation tactics,” she says.

While a drought is a situation that needs to be taken seriously, Terry says Drayton is in a better position than some other communities in the province. The Town draws their water from the North Saskatchewan River, but some other municipalities don’t have direct access to water.

There are several different things that the Town will have in place to comply with the minister’s request. Terry says these include a drinking water safety plan and a water restriction policy.

“[These] will identify thresholds and give us the framework to do those kinds of things if we need to,” she says. “ We are currently researching various options and will be looking at best practices.”

Terry says should the Town enact the policy, there would be no extra cost for taxpayers.

“The policy will be developed using internal resources so we don’t anticipate any additional costs. Enforcement activities will also be done using internal resources,” she says.

Once management has a policy put together, they will be putting it in front of council for approval.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 25, 2024 at 09:48

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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