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2015 Water Program

Town of Okotoks, Alberta

Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Programs

Population:  Project duration:  Total project value:
26,319 2002-present  $1.2 million in annual program costs (costs recovered annually)

Transcript

A recognized leader in sustainable water management, the Town of Okotoks, AB, has achieved one of the lowest per capita gross water consumption rates in North America through implementing its Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity (CEP) Plan. First developed in 2002, the evolving plan features a diverse suite of conservation and efficiency programs in five key areas: regulatory tools; financial tools; utility infrastructure and operation; education and outreach; and partnerships and collaboration.

Supply-side and demand-management measures in each area cover the full cycle of water use. These include indoor water conservation measures; an extensive rebate program; a 12-inch topsoil bylaw to ensure greater water retention; commercial development standards to reduce outdoor water use; consumption-based utility rates; and an advanced leak detection system. Through the innovative Conservation Educator Program, educators visit residents door-to-door during the summer months to discuss strategies for reducing water use.

With support from FCM's Green Municipal Fund (GMF 392) in 2002, the town equipped its state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility with a composting system that eliminates sludge from the treatment process and returns high-quality effluent to the Sheep River. 

Results

Environmental Economic Social
  • Over 46% reduction in gross per capita water consumption

  • 41% reduction in gross water consumption, while experiencing a 45% population increase

  • Low 3.8% system leak rate in water infrastructure system

  • Storm Drainage Bylaw ensures higher quality effluent

  • Approximately $63 million saved in water license purchases

  • $1.3 million in energy savings, with less water moved and processed

  • Extended life of waterworks infrastructure

  • Self-funded utility with progressive rate structure

  • Ongoing engagement helps create a sustainability culture

  • Conservation educators make over 900 households visits each summer

  • Horticulture Hotline service educates community on conservation

Challenges

  • When drafting the bylaw requiring 12 inches of topsoil for residential lots, the town did not consult thoroughly with builders on requirements and process. This led to confusion and poor compliance — until the town revised the bylaw.
  • Once they receive additional topsoil, residents do not always landscape their yards within 12 months, as the bylaw requires.
  • When preparing updates for a 2014 Water CEP Plan, the town discovered that residents and developers had reached a saturation point for change. 

Lessons learned

  • Implement a universal metering program for the residential, commercial and industrial sectors to monitor water consumption and track trends.
  • Develop an ongoing community education plan to ensure participation in water conservation programs.
  • Give the community time to adapt to change, especially when introducing multiple environmental initiatives in different areas.
Page Updated: 25/04/2016