Lessons learned from Cochrane's water emergency in October have informed proposed amendments to the town's water utility bylaw.

Last night, Shane Hubl, director of operations services, brought forward a series of amendments to provide operational flexibility and refine the bylaw's language. It also proposes to expand the overnight irrigation window to 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. instead of the current two narrower windows.

The proposed amendments also include:

  • Replacing references to 'Outdoor Water Use Restriction' with 'Water Use Restriction', as the most severe water emergencies may impact the availability of water both inside and outside residences and businesses.
  • Providing clarity to what each of the three water restriction levels are and guidance regarding their intended purposes.
  • Introducing language such as 'may' instead of 'will or shall' concerning application of measures to allow operational flexibility during future emergency events.
  • Expanding the irrigation time frame from 7 p.m. - 10 a.m., as opposed to the current narrower windows (7 p.m. - 1 a.m. and 5 - 10 a.m.)

Hubl says the rigidity of the current bylaw presented challenges to the operations department during the October emergency.

He says expanding the time frame for overnight irrigation isn't counterproductive, noting the current system is causing a spike in water use in the early morning prior to the high-water use in the morning. In combination, they cause an acute draw upon town reservoirs in the morning.

"This bylaw modification will smooth the irrigation spike over the entire evening, thereby allowing higher reservoir levels throughout the day use period," states Hubl's report.

The proposed amendments received first reading and return to council for consideration for second and third reading.