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MD seeks clarification on water licensing issue

The MD of Willow Creek is asking Alberta Environment what its intentions are with the water not yet allocated at Pine Coulee and what the conversion ratio would be from an irrigation water licence to a domestic licence.
MD of Willow Creek chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti raised the issue June 8.
Vizzutti wants to obtain a water licence of 400 acre feet for the MD of Willow Creek.
Vizzutti presented a draft letter to the assistant deputy minister of environment which council approved for submission.
The letter states it is the wish of council to pursue water service agreements with the towns within the municipal district’s boundaries to expand regional water services to industrial and commercial sites for development and provide a way for rural residents to gain access to potable water from the towns of Claresholm and Fort Macleod, through water co-operatives.
The development of regional pipelines for potable water to rural residents and rural business is at a standstill because Alberta Environment says the rivers basins are allocated out and there are no further allocations allowed.
The letter goes on to state it has come to the attention of the MD of Willow Creek there are many acre feet of irrigation diversion in Pine Coulee that have not been allocated.
The municipal district has several questions regarding whether Alberta Environment will allow the conversion from irrigation to domestic use, and the conversion rate for irrigation acre feet to domestic acre feet.
These questions must be answered so unallocated uses can be converted to those resulting in economic development and the provision of potable water to rural residents.
“The MD of Willow Creek is unable to convince the towns to provide water if it is their licence that is bearing the impact of providing that service,” the letter states. “That is a fair position for the towns to take,” the letter continued. “They cannot and should not provide water outside their own boundaries while putting their own development potential at risk by limiting the usability of their water licence.”
Preliminary discussions with the towns indicate that there may be opportunities for water service agreements if the MD of Willow Creek has a water licence, Vizzutti added.
“Industrial development is being considered at the Claresholm Industrial Area (airport lands) that could see increased water and sewer services being provided by the town based on a revenue-sharing agreement and the subsequent residential and light commercial spin-offs being directed to the town itself.”
The inter-municipal service agreements are encumbered by the lack of water and the cumbersome process and length of time it takes to get a water licence from Alberta Environment, even if the allocation is available.
“The high cost of purchasing a water transfer from a private land owner in the rural region limits development,” Vizzutti added in the letter.
Council asked Alberta Environment to provide some indication of the intentions for unallocated water at Pine Coulee and the conversion factor to be used so the MD of Willow Creek can begin the application process with Alberta Environment.

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