LETHBRIDGE – City officials say the long stretch of unseasonably warm winter temperatures have them on high alert for a potential water shortage this summer.
At a time of year when many southern Albertans would normally be enjoying activities like skating on ponds, instead, many find they’re able to golf already.
On Monday, a city committee discussed a new water-rationing action plan in the face of possible water shortages this summer. City officials said they are simply being proactive and preparing for the worst.
“This winter is a good example,” Councillor Bridget Mearns said. “We have had very little snow and moisture. This could be a year where we see water rationing might be required.”
“We have seen California and British Columbia struggle over the last summer or two,” Doug Kaup, manager of Wastewater for the City of Lethbridge, said. “In light of the weather we have had, we feel it’s wise to prepare and so we can respond (in a) similar way.”
Council was briefed on the proposed plan on Monday which could allow for amendments to the city’s water services bylaw. The current bylaw already penalizes those who contaminate or tamper with the city’s water supply, but the proposed changes would extend to water shortages.
“Like many similar plans, there is a gradual response,” Kaup said. “Depending on the amount of water we are short in the region, the response would be gauged accordingly, and if it becomes quite severe, so does the response.”
Kaup said the water-rationing plan would also impose harsher penalties for those who don’t comply to new water restriction policies.
Fines would begin at $100 and could go up to $500 in the case of a severe emergency.
The bylaw amendments will go before city council on Mar. 7 for a final decision.