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Okotoks' welcome sign with a road and green grass in the background
Cody Stuart | Creb

Okotoks Is Running Out of Water

The people of Okotoks have been living in this situation for more than 20 years

Imagine having to think twice about starting a family because of how much water that might use?

Alberta plans to invest $86 million into water transportation projects to help small towns like Okotoks. The money will come from Alberta’s Water for Life program, Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership (AMWWP), and the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP). 

These programs have big and scary names, but they are actually pretty simple. They basically provide funding for water related projects like building facilities for water supply, treatment, and wastewater. 

The Alberta government’s investment will go towards 33 water infrastructure projects and 45 rural transportation projects. One of these projects includes a new water supply pipeline in Okotoks and Foothills County. 

The Foothills Okotoks Regional Water Project (FORWP) will connect the Bow River to the Highwood River and provide safe and secure drinking water to the region. 

For the people living in Okotoks and Foothills County, this is a big deal.

The pipeline could solve a water shortage that has impacted the area for over 20 years.

In the 1980s, the water shortage was so bad that Alberta stopped issuing water licenses to businesses and landowners in Okotoks. No license, no water.

Okotoks also capped their population at 30,000 in 1998. This cap wasn’t lifted until 2012. At the time, the town’s water supply could only support 30,000 people.

After lifting the population cap, Okotoks’ population grew to 31, 413 in 2021. Thing is, the town’s water supply hasn’t gotten any better.

Okotoks needs to consider its water options as the population grows. But, will linking the rivers really solve Okotoks’ water problems? Or will it just delay the inevitable?

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