Officials from provincial and municipal government gathered in Okotoks on July 20 to announce provincial funding towards a long-term water supply solution for Okotoks and Foothills County.
The Alberta government will provide $15.9 million for the Foothills Okotoks Regional Water Project through a grant from its Water for Life Program. The grant amounts to about 45 per cent of the project cost.
The funding will be used to construct a raw water pipeline to carry water from the Bow River to water treatment facilities in Okotoks and Foothills County.
Okotoks Mayor Tanya Thorn said this announcement is incredible news.
"This is our long-term solution,” Thorn said. “Accessing water should no longer be the (big) concern for our community.”
With the pipeline expected to be up and running by August 2025, Thorn said a supplemental water supply for the region is critical, and it has been a hot topic for over 20 years.
The regional water project is designed to support the needs of new residential growth and business development in Okotoks and Foothills County, and Thorn said this announcement represents a new chapter for the Town and region.
Foothills County Reeve Delilah Miller, Highwood MLA R.J. Sigurdson and Minister of Transportation Prasad Panda were also in attendance at the announcement.
Miller said the waterline has been a long-term strategy proposed by the County, and it is looking forward to this project coming to fruition.
Sigurdson supported a regional approach to water-supply issues.
Stakeholders can come together and address water issues once, rather than each municipality having to deal with it separately, he said, and this type of collaboration benefits both taxpayers and the local economy.
“We can't move forward with our economy here without water,” Sigurdson said, adding this water supply will benefit the community for decades to come.
“This is a system that has a 50-year forward look to it,” he said.
“It's got the ability to be able to continue to grow and expand if needed, but this was a smart, responsible plan.”
Thorn said despite the new access to water, growth in Okotoks is not expected to explode.
“We're not looking to throw open the doors and just grow in different directions all at once,” she said. “We need this water source so that we can eliminate the conversation that Okotoks has a water problem."
The objectives of the Foothills Okotoks Regional Water Project include providing safe and secure drinking water to the region and supporting the water needs of new residential growth and business development in Okotoks and Foothills County.
Next steps towards completion of the project include final regulatory approval before the project reaches the tendering stage.
This funding is part of the more than $58.1 million from the Government of Alberta’s Water for Life and the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership grant programs that will support 33 water infrastructure projects across the province.
The Water for Life program supports critical clean water supply for residents in smaller communities and regional projects across rural Alberta, said Panda.
Panda also announced numerous funding commitments for water and infrastructure projects throughout the province.