Wheatland Regional Water Partnership looking to Calgary for water line 0
What once seemed like a long-gone possibility is now back on the table for the Wheatland Regional Water Partnership (WRWP) as they once again look back to Calgary as the likeliest source of a regional water line.
After an extensive study the Villages of Rockyford, Hussar and Standard as well as Wheatland County have decided to pursue hooking onto the Calgary east regional pipeline that provides Strathmore with water.
"We did a study looking at the Kneehill water commission, a standalone system for the municipalities within Wheatland County and we've looked at hooking onto the City of Calgary waterline," said Rockyford Mayor and head of the Regional Water Partnership Darcy Burke who also added Drumheller to the list of possibilities considered. "The most cost effective one was the City of Calgary waterline."
In the past complications with the Calgary Regional Partnership, primarily Wheatland's reluctance to be a member, have derailed discussions surrounding the area using Calgary's water. However, Burke said that Calgary's stance seems to have softened over time on water issues and they seem to be more receptive to the possibility now.
"The municipalities within Wheatland County, the three villages (Rockyford, Standard and Hussar), we support those concerns of Wheatland County," said Burke. "We feel they're legitimate concerns. We've been in conversation with the city and there has seemed to be some movement on some of those policies they have surrounding the CRP and water supply to municipalities outside of their borders."
How receptive they will be when the issue is actually on the table is yet to be seen as the proposal has yet to be sent to the city.
"Once we make a formal application to the city then we will know what all the parameters will be in that contract," said Burke who continued that the WRWP is planning on having their proposal into Calgary within the next month. "I expect a letter would be going in to the City of Calgary within the next month as to when we will get an answer back I wouldn't even want to guess that."
Acquiring a water source isn't the only issue facing the WRWP as the group is also in the midst of deciding a governance structure for the newly formed organization. The two primary options are between a water commission and a water corporation.
"That's kind of what the process is right now, to go through the governance and see what sort of model we want to utilize as municipalities," said Burke.
He said that the primary difference between the two models is in terms of borrowing capacities. The WRWP has hired Orval Shantz, a lawyer out of Brooks familiar with water issues, to help with the process.
Deciding between a commission and a corporation is only one of the governance issues to be figured out.
"The governance issue is how we're going to work as an entity. How we're going to buy our water, whether it's from our own source or if buy it from an outside source. Also, how we're going to deliver it and the charges that would be going to the municipalities that they would then be passing on to their ratepayers," said Burke.
While the WRWP has applied for funding for the study from the province they are going ahead with the study regardless of outside funding. Burke said they hope to have the study fully completed by the end of the year.
"We want the study completed and sent to municipal affairs and transportation as to how our governance model will be working (by the end of the year)," he said. "How it will be getting the funding in place to build the pipelines or, if we end up with a standalone system, how we will be funding the standalone plant and a regional pipeline."
While the Calgary regional pipeline is the primary option that doesn't mean it is the only one. If turned down by Calgary Burke said other options are possible although not as cost effective.
He said that he's hoping the new water system will be in place in the next two years.
"In Rockyford here our water plant has exceeded its life expectancy so we are in desperate need of getting a plant online. We're hoping if things work well maybe within two years we would definitely have water supplied to Rockyford," he said.