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Central Alberta town councils call for Red Deer River water study

Olds town council has joined Didsbury and Sundre in supporting a call for the province to fund a study into whether a second reservoir is needed along the Red Deer River to ensure there's enough water for users
Existing in-line storage of water on the Red Deer River takes place at the Dickson dam west of Innisfail. The Red Deer River Municipal Users Group is advocating for additional in-line storage on the river. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — Now at least two municipalities are supporting a call for the province to include funding in its upcoming budget for a study into whether a second reservoir is needed along the Red Deer River. 

Red Deer River Municipal Users’ Group (RDRMUG) is asking all reps within the group to canvass their communities for support for the idea. 

During a recent Olds clouncil meeting, consensus was obtained supporting the call. Coun. James Cummings, Olds’ representative on the RDRMUG, will relay that support to the group. 

Didsbury council also passed a motion supporting the concept, as did Sundre's. 

During the Olds meeting, Cummings explained the background behind the RDRMUG’s call. Council passed a motion to accept his report as information. 

He noted Olds doesn’t sit directly in the basin but draws water from the river. 

Cummings said a subcommittee of the group hired consultants to undertake a study of the Red Deer River Basin. 

In doing so, they obtained input from a wide variety of stakeholders, from communities in the basin to sewer and water facilities and agricultural communities concerned about possible future droughts. 

Cummings said the conclusion is that the basin needs a secondary reservoir and that the suggestion is it should be located near Drumheller. 

He said that report is not yet publicly available, but he anticipates it will be in about a month. 

Cummings said the RDRMUG now would like to see the province fund a study of its own to come to its own conclusion about water needs along the basin. 

“We're not asking them to mirror or to have the same conclusions as us, that would be silly. We’re asking them to do the same study that we did, which they’ll draw their own conclusions on,” Cummings said. 

“It’s not about where, when and how, it’s to do a study to see if our river basin ask is sustainable and if it’s not, to come up with recommendations on what can be done to sustain it.” 

He said similar studies have been done on the Bow River basin and the Saskatchewan River basin. 

"Of course, they’re all coming up saying that they all need reservoirs and dams, which is 5 to $7 billion per dam, we’re all begging from the same purse,” Cummings said. 

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