Southern Manitoba is facing an extreme drought, and the Stephenfield Lake and Red River have had significant reductions in level and flow over the past month. As a result, the Pembina Valley Water Cooperative requested that the 14 participating municipalities declare a Municipal Drought State of Emergency.
A Drought State of Emergency is a regionally coordinated “all in it together” effort to manage the existing water shortage, signalling the severity of the situation and need for support to the Province of Manitoba.
The Town of Altona declared a Municipal Drought State of Emergency on July 27, 2021.
Due to the supply shortages of water, mandatory water reduction efforts are now in effect in Altona. Water usage is to be reduced by 15%, and residents will be updated each business day regarding the water consumption numbers.
The Town of Altona is reducing municipal water usage by using non-potable water wherever possible. Municipal gardens and landscaping are being watered on an as-needed basis only, and using non-potable water. The irrigation system at the Gallery in the Park is not in use at this time, and the Town of Altona bulk water station is closed with the exception of drinking water use.
The Town of Altona is also offering a rain barrel filling program to Town of Altona residents. During this stage of restrictions, rain barrels may be filled once per week by Town staff using non-potable water. Residents can register for this program by calling 204-324-6468.
Local residents and businesses must implement the following measures:
- No watering of lawns until further notice
- New grass plantings may be watered once per week, with odd numbered addresses watering on Saturdays, and even numbered addresses watering on Sundays.
- Gardens and flowers may only be watered every other day at a maximum. Residents at even-numbered civic addresses may water on even-numbered days, and odd-numbered days for residents with odd-numbered civic addresses.
- No vehicle washing except at commercial car wash facilities
- No filling of swimming pools, hot tubs or fountains until further notice
- No washing the exterior of structures or pavement with pressure washer or hose until further notice, with the exception of licensed cleaning services
- Reducing overall consumption as much as possible, aiming for a 15% reduction.
These restrictions are in place until further notice.
Last week, we were asked to consider cancelling the Canada Day fireworks show. We chose not to cancel them, and our decision left many of you feeling disrespected and disregarded, especially the Indigenous residents of Altona. Our goal with the large, multi-site fireworks display was to give the community something to look forward to, and enjoy safely at home during a tough year when our in-person events such as the Sunflower Festival are unable to go ahead. While the intention of the fireworks show was not to cause harm to our Indigenous community, we recognize and acknowledge that it has, and we are deeply sorry that the decision that we made has added to your pain
So what now?
We are committed to answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #57, which asks municipal governments to provide education to public servants on Indigenous history. We will be providing access to those education opportunities for our staff and Council teams, starting with a course from the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute. We are also engaging in intentional and meaningful conversations with Indigenous Peoples in our community, and are committed to listening and learning from those conversations.
We are also committed to continuing to offer municipal resources and partnership to our neighbours at Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation as opportunities arise to do so. We don’t have all of the answers, but we know that we have a lot to learn and work to do to repair broken relationships. Let’s do better – together.