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EDITORIAL: A toast to those who make Okotoks water-wise

The Town of Okotoks didn’t have to go beyond Stage 2 this year thanks to measured usage by a water-conscious public. 
The Sheep River flows under the Laurie Boyd Bridge on April 15, 2023.

It only took a gentle nudge. 

It might seem odd to be discussing outdoor water usage when there’s been snow on the ground for the past two weeks, but it’s worth raising a glass of H2O to Okotoks residents for the restraint they showed during a long and dry summer. 

The Town of Okotoks, which lifted the annual watering restrictions last week as October gave way to November, didn’t have to go beyond Stage 2 this year thanks to measured usage by a water-conscious public. 

Stage 2 is actually no different from Stage 1 when it comes to the watering schedule as both allow twice-weekly sprinkling. The only difference with Stage 2 is that it includes a call from the Town for “careful use" of water, a suggestion that residents heeded to such an extent that it led to a 40 per cent reduction in water usage, at times, over the summer. 

A low snowpack combined with below normal rainfall and warmer than normal temperatures meant this summer was ripe for more stringent watering restrictions, but those didn’t end up being necessary once Okotoks moved to Stage 2 in early June. 

All it took was a reminder that water isn’t an endless resource, which prevented the need to go to Stage 3 (once a week watering) or Stage 4 (a complete ban on lawn watering). 

Calgary, on the other hand, had to limit outdoor watering to once a week in mid-August in an effort not to deplete its reservoirs hampered by record-low river levels. 

A secondary supply anticipated to be in operation by 2025 will not only provide peace of mind for the future, but it also highlights the staggering costs of water infrastructure. The choice between using less or spending more — a whole lot more — to build pipelines and treatment plants seems like a no-brainer. 

Thankfully, Okotoks residents have already figured out the answer to that question. 

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