Alberta - 2012 Policy Information  Alberta Shield

Alberta is reaching or has reached limits for allocating water in some of their major basins (e.g., the South Saskatchewan River Basin).  Several years of drought coupled with a growing population and economy drove the Alberta government to release a water strategy in 2003.  The strategy, Water For Life, was reviewed and updated in 2008, and the action plan was released in 2009.  The Government of Alberta is also actively reviewing Alberta's water allocation system and water markets for potential adoption in Alberta.

Use the links below to jump to a specific question:

Q1. Agencies Q9. Permitting Q17. Technical Assistance
Q2. Toilet Regulations   Q10. Drought Plans Q18. Volumetric Billing  
Q3. Showerhead Regulations Q11. Conservation Plans Q19. Metered Connections 
Q4. Urinal Regulations Q12. Authority to Approve Plans Q20. ET Microclimate Information  
Q5. Clothes Washer Regulations Q13. Plan Update Frequency Q21. Efficiency Strategy
Q6. PRSV Regulations Q14. Planning Framework Q22. Alternative Sources
Q7. Building or Plumbing Codes Q15. Implementation Requirements Additional Information
Q8. Water Loss Q16. Funding for Conservation

 

 

 

 

 



  1. What provincial ministry, department or agencies are in charge of drinking water conservation/efficiency?

    Alberta Environment

    Alberta Environment is responsible for administering the Water Act and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.  It is the primary department leading the “Water for Life” implementation and regulates municipal drinking water. 

  2. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for toilets that is more stringent than the federal standard?  

    Neither the federal nor Albertan governments have a regulation for toilets at the point of sale.  Although provincial building and plumbing codes can require water efficiency standards in new construction and renovations, and mandates minimum efficiency standards for energy consuming products, there is to date no federal regulation for mandating the water efficiency of toilets at the point of sale.

  3. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for showerheads that is more stringent than the federal standard? 

    Neither the federal nor Albertan governments have a regulation for showerheads at the point of sale.  Although provincial building and plumbing codes can require water efficiency standards in new construction and renovations, there is to date no federal regulation for mandating the water consumption/efficiency of showerheads at the point of sale.
     
  4. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for urinals that is more stringent than the federal standard?

    Neither the federal nor Albertan governments have a regulation for urinals at the point of sale.  Although provincial building and plumbing codes can require water efficiency standards in new construction and renovations, there is to date no federal regulation for mandating the water consumption/efficiency of urinals at the point of sale.
      
  5. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for clothes washers that is more stringent than the federal standard? 

    No.

    Minimum water efficiency standards for commercial and residential clothes washers are established through Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations.

  6. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for pre-rinse spray valves that is more stringent than the federal standard?  

    No.

    Minimum water efficiency standards for pre-rinse spray valves are established through Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations, limiting the flow rate to less than 6.1 litres per minute at 60 Psi water pressure as of January 1, 2012.

  7. Does the province have mandatory building or plumbing codes requiring water efficient products that exceed the federal standard? 

    No.

    The Alberta government has adopted the 2005 National Model Plumbing Code. The National Building and Plumbing Codes of Canada are the model codes. They are issued by the Institute for Research and Construction (IRC), a part of the National Research Council of Canada. As model codes, they have no legal status until it is adopted by a jurisdiction that regulates construction. The Provinces and Territories of Canada are allowed to adopt parts or all of the code and to alter the code as they see fit.

    As of 2005 the National Plumbing Code does not explicitly mandate the use of water efficient fixtures – instead it references the ASME A112.18.1-2005 / CSA B125.1-2005 standards which dictate maximum flush volumes for toilets of 13.2 litres, maximum flow rates of 8.3 litres per minute (Lpm) for lavatory and kitchen faucets, and 9.5 Lpm for showerheads. The National Plumbing Code currently allows non-potable sources to be used with dual plumbing systems within the home for fixtures other than sinks and faucets, and rainwater to be used for underground irrigation. 
     
  8. Does the province have any regulations or policies for water utilities regarding water loss in the utility distribution system?  

    No, however the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) has voluntary targets for Infrastructure Leakage Index.

    The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) required AUMA member municipalities to estimate their Infrastructure Leakage Index (ILI) and identify ways to reduce leaks according to the following participation rates:
         • 100% of municipalities with populations greater than 10,000
         • 75% of municipalities with populations between 2,500 and 10,000
         • 50% of municipalities with populations under 2,500

    AUMA Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plan 

  9. Does the province require conservation activities as part of its water permitting process or water right permit?

    No, but can attach conditions.

    Alberta uses the priority system for allocating water (first in time, first in right (FITFIR)).  Licenses are issued for both surface and groundwater.  Traditional household and traditional agricultural uses are exempt from license requirements.  The South Saskatchewan River water management plan, approved by Cabinet, recommended that surface water licenses no longer be issued in that basin but that water rights can be transferred.  Click here for a copy of the SSRB water management plan.

    CEP plans are not currently mandated under the Water Act, however the Government of Alberta (in its assurance role) can require plans be developed and implemented through water license conditions. Section 38(3) of Alberta's Water Act says, "The Director may issue an approval subject to any terms and conditions that the Director considers appropriate" – thus giving broad powers to the Director. It has not been done often, but it can occur where a situation warrants the approval holder to take actions to improve their conservation efforts.
    Section 11(3)(a)(iv) of the Water Act states that under an approved water management plan, the plan must include “the matters and factors that must be considered in deciding whether to issue an approval, license…, or to approve a transfer of an allocation of water under a license.” (Note: “matters and factors” could include conservation, efficiency and productivity (CEP) measures.)
    Section 51(4)(a) of the Water Act states that the Director (in making a decision to issue a license) “must consider the matters and factors that must be considered in issuing a license, as specified in the applicable approved water management plan.”
    (Note: In some situations the Director has discretion with respect to consideration of including CEP measures/plans in issuing licenses (“may consider”, and in other situations it is clear that the Director “must consider” factors and matters when issuing licenses.) 

    Section 14(1) of the Water Act also provides authority for the Minister to establish water guidelines.  This is the section where a water CEP guideline could be developed.  (Note: See relationship to section 97(2) below).

    Section 97(2) of the Water Act
    "97(2) If the Director is of the opinion that water is not being conserved or that a person has wasted any water that is diverted pursuant to an approval, license, registration or this Act and the wastage is contrary to a water conservation guideline respecting wastage of water, the Director may issue to any person a water management order for conservation purposes."
     
  10. Does the province require preparation of drought emergency plans by water utilities or cities on any prescribed schedule?  

    No  

  11. Does the province have a mandatory planning requirement for potable water conservation/efficiency separate from drought emergency plans?   

    No, however Alberta Urban Municipalities Association does.

    By December 31, 2011, AUMA member municipalities will develop Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plans according to the following participation rates:
         • 100% of municipalities with populations greater than 10,000
         • 75% of municipalities with populations between 2500 and 10,000
         • 50% of municipalities with populations under 2500

    AUMA Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plan

  12. Does the province have the authority to approve or reject the conservation plans? 

    N/A because current sector CEP plans  are not required under legislation.  Director has authority to approve or reject plans that may be required as a license condition in individual licenses.
     
  13. How often does the province require the water utilities to submit a potable water conservation plan (not part of a drought emergency plan)? 

    N/A because current sector CEP plans are not required under legislation.  Individual utilities may be required to develop plans in accordance with the terms and conditions of their water license.  Current example is City of Grande Prairie/Aquatera (copy attached; refer to section 7.0 in the water license).

  14. If the province has a mandatory planning requirement for potable water conservation separate from drought emergency plans, is there a framework or prescribed methodology?

    N/A because current sector CEP plans are not required under legislation.
     
     
  15. Does the province require water utilities to implement conservation measures, beyond just the preparation and submittal of plans? 

    Implementation of water conservation plans that may be developed as a condition of a license would be required.

  16. Does the province offer financial assistance to utilities, cities, or counties for urban water conservation programs such as a revolving loan fund? Grants? Bonds? Appropriations?  Bonds?  Appropriations?

    No, with the exception of metering.

    Canada does not have a revolving fund for infrastructure loans.  Federally, the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) provides grants for up to 50% of project costs, or below-market, low interest loans of up to 80% of project costs. FCM is an advocacy organization; however the Government of Canada endowed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) with $550 million to establish the GMF program.

    The GMF funds municipal projects and studies, which have included feasibility studies of water conservation programs, water distribution system leak detection and control projects, plumbing retrofit programs, wastewater recycling, and sustainable community plans involving water conservation. In 2011, water conservation projects that reduce water use by more than 20% are a funding focus.

    The Building Canada plan is the primary mechanism in Canada for funding water and wastewater infrastructure, and encompasses a number of funds including provincial and municipal base funding, gas tax funds, and the Building Canada fund. Over half of the funding under the Building Canada plan is provided as base funding to municipalities, and the funds are generally administered by the provinces. The Building Canada fund promotes long-term funding of water infrastructure projects, including projects designed to improve conservation of water. Funding focuses on improved treatment standards that emphasize the protection of human health. The projects are required to be supported by measures that improve the management of sources of drinking water, reduce demands, and improve the management of drinking water infrastructure.

    All projects are cost shared, generally in equal thirds between federal/provincial/municipal governments. The Building Canada fund operates through two components: the Major Infrastructure Component (MIC) that targets large strategic projects of national and regional significance, and the Communities Component that focuses on projects in communities with populations of less than 100,000.

    To date, funded projects have focused on centralized infrastructure as opposed to conservation efforts, with the exception of metering. Capital cost funding projects must result in a tangible capital asset. Planning costs are also eligible, which could potentially support the development of water conservation plans.

    Infrastructure Canada's Website

    Alberta Transportation administers the Alberta Water/Wastewater Partnership (AMWWP).  The AMWWP provides cost-shared funding to eligible municipalities to assist in the construction of municipal water supply and treatment and wastewater treatment and disposal facilities.  The program also encourages water conservation and consumption-based rate structures. Under this initiative, municipalities could be subject to a 10 percent reduction in grants if they have no metering in place and the average annual consumption exceeds the norm for the area. This applies to both water and wastewater projects.
     
  17. Does the province offer technical assistance for urban water conservation programs? 

    Yes.

    Alberta Water Council has a project team working with the seven major water using sectors committed to developing Conservation and Efficiency Productivity (CEP) Plans.  These include:  irrigation, municipal, power generation, oil and gas, mining, chemical and petrochemical, forestry.  Alberta Environment provided technical and financial capacity to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to develop a Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity (CEP) plan for the sector.

    AUMA provides it’s members with resources such as AUMA's Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity (CEP) Planning Guide and Municipal Water Conservation Initiatives List.

    Alberta Environment also provides technical support to licensed water users:  

    Water Measurement Guidebook to assist un-metered users to measure their water use is available online and is intended to improve reporting through Alberta Environment’s online Water Use Reporting System

    Staff from AENV, Health and Wellness and Municipal Affairs are working on development of a guideline/policy for the reuse of residential ‘greywater’ (under development).

    A guideline and handbook on rainwater harvesting are available online.
    http://www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca/CP_RainwaterHarvesting.cfm

    Electronic Water Use Reporting (WUR) System (ongoing) – an online reporting system for use by license holders to report their water use.  This system is operational and is being used by large license holders.   Efforts are underway to increase reporting by amending large licenses to include reporting as a mandatory license condition.
     
    An instructional video was developed to assist municipalities (and other license holders) in accessing the online Water Use reporting system
     
    Alberta Environment Drinking Water Group provides full cost accounting information on line  for municipalities and municipal water utilities.
    Preliminary work has been undertaken to improve ability to increase ‘water allocation transfers’ in the South Saskatchewan River basin.  
     
  18. Does the province require volumetric billing?

    No
     
     
  19. What percentage or number of publicly supplied water connections (residential and nonresidential) are metered in your province?

    87.2% residential and 91.2% commercial

    Municipal Water Use 2009 Summary Tables 

  20. Does the province provide ET microclimate information for urban landscapes? 

    No 

  21. Does the province have a water conservation and efficiency strategy?

    Yes.

    Water Conservation is one of the key directions in Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy and the strategy outlines short-, medium- and long-term actions.  

  22. Does the province have standards for alternative water sources?

    Yes.

    Rainwater Harvesting Guidelines

    Rainwater
    Harvesting Handbook

    The government also established the 
    Reclaimed Water Working Group to develop appropriate regulations, and water quality and technical standards or guidelines to facilitate the safe use of reclaimed wastewater in Alberta. Guidelines have not yet been published.

    Additional Information:
     

    Alberta Water Act

Alberta Water Act - Water Conservation Objectives

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA)  

Alberta Water Council (2007) Alberta Water Conservation Productivity - Final-Report

Alberta-Govt-(2009) A Source to Tap Multi Barrier Approach

Various (2005) A Primer - Rainwater Reuse in Calgary

PEMBINA (2006) Troubling Waters Troubling Trends the Need to Reduce Water Use in the Alberta's Oil Industry

Gibbon, W (2008) Who uses water-saving fixtures in the home - Canada

EPCOR (2008) How We Use Water Wisely in Edmonton

Environment Canada (2011) 2009 Municipal Water Use Statistics

Environment Canada (2011) Municipal Water Pricing Report

co2re (2005) Water Conservation Brochure - Edmonton

Alberta Environment (2007) Water Use in Alberta - Summary

AIA (2005) Environment for Growth - Water use in Alberta