Amid Calgary's ongoing water emergency, many Okotokians have been asking what measures are in place to prevent a similar event from happening in their town.

Among them was councillor Brent Robinson, who posed such a question at the June 10 Okotoks town council meeting.

Operations & Utilities Director Jeremy Huet was already on hand, having anticipated a water question to have cropped up.

Huet addressed the presence of redundancies in Okotoks' water lines in response to Robinson's inquiry about the seeming lack of redundancy in Calgary's water system that led to some of the present issues.

"Generally, the vast majority of our feeder mains throughout town between reservoirs are redundant. They're looped, we have two alternative methods to deliver water."

He says the town is constantly working to identify risks and address them.

"Last year we identified some risks on our west wellfield, particularly the receiving station. There was no backup power or ability to add backup power. That was added last year. That said, our west wellfield still provides 40 per cent of our raw water supply to our wastewater treatment plant, and that's on a single line. So generally, what we do is when we identify a risk, we try to identify what is the repair plan. Critical spare inventory is something that comes up," says Huet. "We're reviewing our critical spare inventory right now. Luckily for us, we don't usually have 1950mm pipe in our system and most of the repair parts are generally off the shelf. Although it does absolutely help to have this critical infrastructure to have repair parts available, our sizes are a little more readily available for the size of our network in the Town of Okotoks."

According to Huet, the biggest planned step for water security in town is the Foothills Okotoks Regional Water Project.

With that said, he highlighted other procedures including ongoing inspections of the west wellfield and improvements in leak detection.

He also addressed communication, an aspect of the City of Calgary's response to their water emergency that Mayor Jyoti Gondek recently apologized for.

Huet says the town's Water Shortage Response Plan was recently altered to give residents a better idea of what will be expected of them in an emergency.

"I would suggest that one of the steps that we've just made this spring on the emergency response side was actually adding that Step 5, Essential Use, to our Shortage Response Plan, so that if we do have an emergency, we can quickly communicate out what the resident is expected to do to help mitigate demands in the system." 

He concluded that effective infrastructure planning acknowledges that risks will always be present while maximizing the efficiency of mitigating those risks.

"There are risks. Hopefully through good planning, maintenance efforts, identifications, having critical spare parts on hand, we can mitigate the chances of any of those incidents from occurring. There are some other deficiencies, and as we identify them, we bring forward projects to mitigate those risks."