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Okotoks growth could outstrip water supply

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Options for expanding supply cost roughly $120 million each

One year after Okotoks lifted its population cap, the town is facing a challenge — making sure it has an adequate supply of water to keep up with future growth.

Okotoks has enough water for 30,000 people and right now, its population sits at more than 26,000. If the population continues to grow, the town could find itself without enough water.

So far, the town has looked at two options to increase the supply of water. Both involve pipelines and both are prohibitively expensive.

"The treated water from the City of Calgary was $122 million and the raw water pipeline was $120 million, but we still have more costs to be evaluated," says Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson.

Robertson says Okotoks can't foot the bill on its own. He says the town will need to convince the cash-strapped Alberta government to help.

This year, the province drastically cut funding for its municipal water program. The program helps towns such as Okotoks pay for their water supplies. Funding dropped from $170 million to $75 million per year.

Robertson says he hopes to meet with the province soon to talk about the town's options and how it would pay for increasing the water supply in Okotoks.

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