Calgary

Pipeline seen as solution to Okotoks water problems, says mayor

Okotoks is renewing its call for government funding to help build a new 16-kilometre pipeline to transport drinking water from Calgary, as the town’s mayor says a future water shortage could turn the taps off on construction growth.

'Development will stop unless we find an external source of water'

Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson says new development will require an additional source of drinking water and he's hoping the federal and provincial governments will step up. (Tiphanie Roquette/CBC)

Okotoks is renewing its call for government funding to help build a new 16-kilometre pipeline to transport drinking water from Calgary, as the town's mayor says a future water shortage could turn the taps off on construction growth.

Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson says his community will face serious growing pains unless it finds an additional source of drinking water.

"We have water for approximately 2,000 more people," Robertson told CBC News.

"After that, our licence capacity will be at max and we won't be able to draw any more water, hence development will stop unless we find an external source of water."

The community of more than 28,000 people currently draws its water from the Sheep River, but Robertson says it won't be enough to supply future growth.

The Okotoks mayor says new development like this could dry up if a new source of drinking water is not found. (Tiphanie Roquette/CBC)

So it wants to buy water from Calgary and build a $30-million pipeline to move it.

They've been lobbying for provincial and federal government help to pay for that pipeline, for years.

"We have residents who want to come here.  We need to accommodate those people who want to come in," he said.

Robertson adds the pipeline would have regional value beyond Okotoks.

Water challenges = construction challenges

University of Lethbridge research associate Lorraine Nicol is behind a new study that polled 15 housing developers about their views on water challenges in three municipalities around Calgary including Okotoks.

She says they believe water challenges are creating construction challenges.

"They're all talking about the need for some regional framework in order to share water," Nicol said.

The province says it's currently assessing several water-related funding requests but there's no word yet on the Okotoks proposal.

With files from Tiphanie Roquette and Dave Gilson

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