Calgary city council discuss water security, stormwater management

City council looked at issues around water security and stormwater management Monday as part of a strategic session around the future challenges of ensuring there’s enough water for a growing city and region.

A report that went to council said continuing population and economic growth in the Calgary region will impact water quantity and quality.

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The region’s population is expected to reach 1.7 million by 2036.

“And the water shortages will only increase from there,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday. “So, it’s important now that we start making the decisions we have to make around development and growth throughout the region, conservation, how we pay for water, to make sure we can accommodate the growth we expect here in the coming decades.”

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One scenario council members were presented included a changing climate of drier and warmer summers, presenting issues with meeting water demand.

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Stormwater management methods were also addressed, with council looking to limit pollution from entering rivers and impacting downstream users. One consideration could be building communities with stormwater as a primary concern.

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“When we are deciding how many new neighbourhoods we are going to approve, we don’t really think about them in terms of water and we particularly don’t think about them in terms of stormwater,” Nenshi said.

“How do we do the drainage? How do we avoid flooding?”

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Nenshi said tough decisions and tough conversations could be had in the future to follow through with low-impact development commitments.

Increasing rates for water in a push for conservation is not the way to go, Nenshi said. But the Calgary mayor is open to hearing about conservation-based rate setting.

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“It’s intriguing to me to think about how we can protect the average water user, but make sure those that are overusing are paying for that use.”

The information from the scenarios council worked on will be used by city administration to come back with a report with short-term recommendations on a water security strategy by the end of the year.

–with files from Adam Toy

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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