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$481.9 million in funding for water infrastructure amid a growing population

The provincial government is increasing funding for municipal water resources, including water treatment plants.

As part of Budget 2024, $481.9 million will be allocated to municipal water programs over three years, an increase of $73.9 million from 2023, according to a news release.

In 2023, Alberta’s population grew by 195,000, which “puts a lot of strain and stress on Alberta’s infrastructure — that being roads, bridges and water projects,” according to the transportation and economic corridors minister.

“These historic Budget 2024 investments into municipalities for municipal water projects will promote stable growth, protect the environment and ensure Albertans have access to clean drinking water and reliable water treatment facilities,” said Minister Devin Dreeshen.

“This funding will support water and wastewater projects across the province including high priority regional water projects, water treatment plants and disposal facilities in communities across Alberta.”

The budget includes a planned $206.5 million for the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership, $237.7 million in Water for Life grants and $37.7 million in funding for the First Nations Water Tie-In programs.

“For smaller Alberta communities, population under 45,000, the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership helps upgrade water supply and treatment and wastewater treatment systems,” said the government in a news release. “The Water for Life program helps municipalities cover up to 90 or 100 per cent of the costs for specified projects.

“Alberta’s First Nations Water Tie-In funds up to 100 per cent of costs to connect a First Nation to an existing regional water system.”

Currently, seven communities are connected to water systems through that program, according to Dreeshen. As of April 2022, 22 First Nations projects were approved and fully committed for funding.

Improved water infrastructure will do more than increase Albertans’ quality of life, it will attract investment, Dreeshen added.

“These projects also support the entrepreneurs, businesses and industries that are keeping our economy humming – and will help municipalities attract even more investors,” said Nate Horner, the minister of finance.

When the budget was first announced in February, Alberta municipalities expressed concern over how the infrastructure funding allocated to them fell short of what would be needed.

“I get that the budget and times are tough, for sure, but we can’t continue to look after the growth that we’re seeing in this province without more support from the province,” Tyler Gandam, the president of Alberta Municipalities and mayor of Wetaskiwin, told CTV News earlier in March.

“There is a lot of aging infrastructure in this province that needs significant investments,” said Dreeshen. “Over $900 million a year is directly going to municipalities in grants, whether it’s through transit, through water, through roads and bridges.”

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