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NEWS: Town’s water license challenged in Alberta

The Rocky View Weekly reports today that, “Westridge Utilities Inc. filed an appeal with the Environmental Appeals Board (on) November 26 against Rocky View County’s water licence for (a new) treatment plant. …Alberta Environment granted the water licence, which authorized the County to divert up to 277,533 cubic metres of water annually from the Elbow River (on) October 29. The authorization allowed council’s approval of the $3.6- million treatment plant, which is being equally funded by the Province, the Federal Government and the County, to solve the decades-old water quality issue in Bragg Creek.”

Bragg Creek is a community of about 550 people in Rocky View County and is located at the confluence of the Elbow River and Bragg Creek, about 30 kilometres west of Calgary. According to the Rocky View County website, “On October 22, 2010 the County closed public competition for the construction contract for the Water Treatment Plant. On November 9, 2010 Rocky View County awarded the contract to the low bid submission… Construction will commence immediately and will proceed quickly with a completion date of March 31, 2011 targeted.”

The Rocky View Weekly adds, “The appeal is currently in the hands of the County’s legal counsel and, once all the documentation from Alberta Environment, Westridge and Rocky View is in place, the Board will determine how the matter will be processed.”

In December 2007, Westridge Utilities also challenged plans by the Municipal District of Rocky View, which acquired water rights from the Western Irrigation District, to build a pipeline and treatment facility to supply water to a megaproject (a horse racetrack, casino and super mall) outside Balzac, just north of Calgary.

The Calgary Herald reported then that Westridge was “contending the $15-million trade increases the risk to its supply and could drive up prices for the resource.” The newspaper also reported that, “The appeal by Westridge Utilities…is the first challenge of a licence transfer in Alberta’s fledgling market to buy and sell water rights.”

“Westridge Utilities…believes Alberta Environment rushed to make a decision on the province’s largest licence transfer to date, failing to properly consider potential effects on other water users. …The investor-owned utility is worried about losing its supply in dry years to licensees with older rights. When there isn’t enough water to go around in Alberta, newer licence-holders such as Westridge face bans from taking water from rivers to ensure senior licensees, such as irrigating farmers and the City of Calgary, get their water.”

“Lawyers for Rocky View and Alberta Environment have asked the (appeal) board to reject Westridge’s appeal, contending the utility west of Calgary isn’t harmed by the trade. Westridge draws its water from the Elbow River, while Rocky View would take water from the Bow.”

After a hearing, the Environmental Appeal Board found that Westridge Utilities was not directly affected by this project.

A web-profile says that, “Westridge Utilities is a private company categorized under Water and Sewage Companies-Utility and located in Calgary, AB, Canada. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $740,550 and employs a staff of approximately 4.” The company does not appear to have a website.

Today’s Rocky View Weekly article is at The December 2007 Calgary Herald report is at A 2007 feature report in the Calgary Herald is at