Morinville Council adopts water conservation plan

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By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Council unanimously approved the adoption of a new Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity (CEP) Plan at its Oct. 9 meeting.

The development of a CEP was one of the goals identified in Morinville’s Municipal Sustainability Plan back in 2011. The CEP will consider water conservation initiatives, strategies and programs, the introduction of efficient water technologies for indoor and outdoor use, regulatory methods through bylaws, and education through social media and other channels.

At its heart, the proposed CEP is an outline for a reduction target for Morinville’s water consumption, complete with timelines and recommended strategies for achieving the goal. That goal is to reduce the community’s average per capita composite water consumption by 5 per cent by 2020.

Part of the plan calls for the possible hiring of a seasonal Water Conservation Community Liaison Officer (WCCLO) whose role would primarily be one of education, touring neighbourhoods and businesses offering water conservation advice and tips. Other education measures would include traditional Town of Morinville channels, including the Town’s website, pamphlets, flyers and mail-outs.

Incentives and deterrents

The program is proposing a rebate of approximately $75 for installing a water-efficient toilet with a maximum of two rebates per household. Additionally, the plan calls for bulk purchasing on rain barrels to encourage residents to use collected rain to water gardens and information on better landscaping techniques and technologies.

While the incentives passed Council without comment, the idea of a three-tiered water rate program raised the ire of Councillor Gordon Boddez. As initially proposed, the plan called for charging residents more as they used more water. Minimal water use would be charged at a low rate, a higher rate for moderate water consumption, and an even higher rate for the highest consumers of water.

“I think we have the highest water rates in the region,” Boddez said. “I do not want to see an additional burden on the taxpayer. I just don’t see that as something we should be doing at this time.”

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The councillor asked that the wording of the plan be changed so that the feasibility of such a plan was investigated for its feasibility as opposed to it simply taking effect when the plan rolls out over the next few years.

Whatever the final decision on a tiered system is, additional measures in the plan could include seasonal restrictions on water consumption between May and October and a bylaw to give peace officers the teeth to enforce it.

Spray Park recirculation a major part of long term plan

As adopted, the CEP would look for $760,000 of finances over a four-year period. The first year of the program, 2013, would see $53,500 in spending, the majority of that to be spent on Town parks and flowerbed maintenance. That amount would be increased to a proposed $80,500 in 2014, including $13,000 for the seasonal WCCLO. The largest expenditure is targeted for 2015 when $533,500 is proposed for the program. The lion’s share of that amount is $450,000 for a water recirculation system for the Morinville Rotary Spray Park. Currently, water from the spray units goes directly into the sewer system. The final year, 2016, proposes $92,500 in spending, the majority to again be spent on the Town’s parks and flowerbeds. To that end, the plan calls for the use of drought tolerant plants, heavy mulching and improved mowing, landscaping and watering practices with an eye to reducing water usage. Similar monies are targeted for this use throughout the initial four years.

With the plan now amended and adopted by Council, Administration will prepare a more concrete plan for presentation during the 2013 budget process.

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