Alberta Municipalities Policies and Resolutions
Proposed Municipal Water Policies
Alberta Municipalities is excited to start a new water policy engagement process with our members. For many local governments, water and wastewater infrastructure are the two most important assets in their community. Access to clean and affordable drinking water, adequate facilities to treat wastewater, and funding to upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure are essential elements for economic growth. Water is the source of building strong communities.
Over the last few years, we have heard from our members that our existing water policies need an update. Our current water policies were developed between 2012 to 2014, and the water principles we follow are still relevant. Our members feel we need to reposition and evaluate our water advocacy as an association. Furthermore, our current advocacy may not adequately address climate change.
Recently, Alberta Municipalities administration started a discussion with the Alberta Municipalities Sustainability and Environment Committee as the first step of our engagement. The committee supports a new engagement process that will involve seeking our members' input on existing policy principles and resolutions. We will be updating our policies and resolutions upon completion of our water policy engagement in late 2023.
How to get involved
Alberta Municipalities' process
We want to bring a convention resolution for members' endorsement during the 2023 annual convention. We hope to gather our members' input starting now and develop a draft resolution with guidance from the Alberta Municipalities Sustainability and Environment Committee. Here is an overview of our timeline:
April 22, 2022: Seek the Sustainability and Environment Committee's endorsement of the engagement plan and the proposed municipal water management principles.
May to August 2022: Engagement with members.
October to November 2022: Recommend the Alberta Municipalities Board of Directors to endorse municipal water management principles as the association's interim position.
January 2023: The Sustainability and Environment Committee begins working on a resolution for the 2023 annual convention.
March to April 2023: The Sustainability and Environment Committee reviews the draft resolution.
May 2023: Resolution deadline.
September 2023: The resolution goes to members for consideration.
Proposed Alberta Municipalities' Water Policies
Alberta Municipalities' current positions on water have been rooted in the four resolutions and a set of strategic principles. The four resolutions endorsed are:
2014 Municipal Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plan
2014 Municipal Water Policy on Stormwater
2013 Municipal Water Policy on Wetlands
- 2012 Municipal Water Policy on Water Resources Management and Municipal Water Viability
These four resolutions and a set of water management principles were developed based on engagement with members. The water management principles are based on the leadership role municipalities play in many facets of water management as well as overarching water management framework that can be used to guide policy development on various topics.
All four resolutions were developed over several years, with support from an external water specialist. According to Alberta Municipalities Resolution Policy, resolutions expire after three years. These four resolutions have been kept on because many of the concerns and recommendations from municipalities are still valid. These resolutions have served as guidelines when advocating for municipalities. If we rescind these four resolutions, there is a potential that we will lose valuable feedback from our members developed over several years.
Alberta Municipalities has been considering how to refresh our current municipal water policy – the resolutions and the municipal water management principles – with input from the Alberta Municipalities Sustainability and Environment Committee. In April 2022, the committee suggested that members should have the opportunity to review and revise the current municipal water management principles.
Alberta Municipalities' Municipal Water Management Principles
Role of Municipalities
The following statements represent the roles municipalities would like to play, assuming the appropriate resources and support.
Municipalities as an order of government have a role to play in responsible water management as leaders in water conservation, efficiency, productivity, and maintenance of healthy aquatic ecosystems.
Municipalities operate water and wastewater systems and employ quality assurance, controls and asset management practices towards ensuring the sustainability of their water infrastructure, requiring support from other orders of government and Alberta Municipalities to succeed.
Municipalities should have effective mechanisms and adequate resources contributing to the 'Water for Life' goals of ensuring Albertans have a safe and secure supply of drinking water, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and reliable quality supplies for a sustainable economy.
Municipalities are engaged in shaping water policies and legislation and have the authority and resources for effective monitoring, reporting and enforcement, in conjunction with other orders of government.
Municipalities are active partners in implementing provincial and regional land and watershed management plans that reduce the cumulative effects of development on aquatic ecosystems.
Municipal Water Management Principles
Water is essential to municipal sustainability in terms of a community's economic viability, environmental integrity, social wellbeing, cultural vibrancy, and good governance.
Healthy aquatic ecosystems and source water protection are essential to providing Albertans with safe, secure drinking water and reliable quality water supplies for a sustainable economy.
In times of water shortages, water for human health must be given the highest priority.
Water allocation legislation, policies and practices recognize that water is a scarce limited resource with significant present and future value.
Decision-making is supported by clear, scientifically-based, accurate and publicly available information on water availability, quality, use, and the health of aquatic ecosystems.
Water management should be based on a risk management approach that balances capacity, aquatic and human health, and economic prosperity.
The costs of municipal water and wastewater services should be borne primarily by users.
Investment in water resources needs to be a high priority for governments and all water stakeholders.
Governments must include climate change adaptation and mitigation in water planning and management (e.g., infrastructure, source water protection, wetland protection, drought, stormwater management, flooding, water allocation, etc.).
Recognizing that our water supply is not limitless, Alberta’s Water for Life strategy set a provincial target for water conservation of a 30 percent improvement in overall water conservation, efficiency, and productivity levels. A key action to achieving this target calls for the province’s major water-using sectors to develop water conservation, efficiency, and productivity (CEP) plans.
As the urban municipal sector is one of Alberta’s seven major water-using sectors, Alberta Municipalities has developed a Conservation, Efficiency, and Productivity Plan proposing an outcomes-based approach to water savings. The Plan outlines an overall flexible strategy for achieving water conservation, efficiency, and productivity objectives that recognizes that capacity and issues vary between municipalities.
Stormwater management is an important concern for municipalities across Alberta. Aging infrastructure and the expansion of impervious areas are creating challenges for managing the quality and volume of stormwater that flows across urban landscapes.
To create an enabling environment for improved stormwater management, Alberta Municipalities has developed the 2014 Municipal Water Policy on Stormwater. The Policies address challenges identified through member outreach and included policy solutions on areas such as:
- Stormwater reuse.
- Urban flooding.
- Climate change.
- Low impact development.
- Infrastructure development.
In 2013, Alberta Municipalities developed a second policy document focused on wetlands. These policies were made in line with the Government of Alberta work to develop a new Alberta Wetland Policy to replace an interim policy which was released in 1993. Developing our own policy gives Alberta Municipalities the opportunity to raise the profile and understanding of wetlands among members and to create an enabling environment for wetland conservation and restoration.
Based on the Water Primer and Discussion Paper, Alberta Municipalities’ members approved an initial set of municipal policies in 2012 pertaining to water management and allocation as well as the viability of municipal water and wastewater systems.