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Okotoks spills about new Water Smart grant for businesses

Beginning Jan. 12, businesses and organizations can apply to receive up to $10,000 to complete a water conservation project
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The Town of Okotoks has launched a new program where businesses and organizations can apply for rebates to install water conservation projects.

The Town of Okotoks has announced a new program to incentivize the local commercial, industrial and institutional sector to become more environmentally friendly when it comes to water use. 

The Water Smart Business Grant is open to organizations from Jan. 12 to Mar. 31 and will see successful applicants receive up to $10,000 for eligible water-saving projects. 

"We really do want to support the non-residential sector in their water conservation efforts," said town environmental and sustainability co-ordinator Jinny Toffelmire. "We live in a part of the province where there's a growing demand for water, but a limited amount of water resources. 

"We're really hoping that by offering this kind of incentive that maybe this will be the tipping point for a project that [a business or organization] wanted to do and this will help with their funding." 

Four types of projects are covered under the grant — water-wise landscaping (xeriscape), irrigation upgrades, rain- or storm-water capture or reuse and indoor water fixture upgrades. More than one project can be included in an application and each project can be customized to the business or institutions needs, as long as grant guidelines are met, according to the Town.

The Water Smart Business Grant is replacing the current rebate program, which Toffelmire said was put in place approximately two years ago.

Under the previous program, she said irrigation upgrades were approved with a $2,000 budget but came with rather prescriptive guidelines. Xeriscaping projects were awarded up to $6,000. 

"We're hoping that by offering up to $10,000 that it will really motivate the business or institution to really latch on to this and enable them to do more," said Toffelmire, who said in the long run, businesses who implement improvements will ultimately see a positive impact on their water bills. 

She said with $40,000 available annually for these rebates, a maximum of four large-scale projects (those requiring the $10,000 maximum) can be approved per year. Alternatively, projects requiring less funding can also be granted until the maximum total allotted for the year is reached. 

Following the application period, proposals will be evaluated and funding will be given based on the percentage of water saved in relation to the building's typical water use. The town has indicated outdoor projects must have projected savings of 15 to 30 per cent or more during the summer and indoor projects must have projected savings of at least 20 per cent year-round. 

Water conservation rebates are not a new program for Okotoks. According to a press release, residential grant funding for projects has been available for more than a decade. 

Toffelmire said that the residential program has been relatively popular since its inception.

In recent years, grants for residential improvements have not been maxed out, which she said is due to the fact that the total amount of funding available for projects has increased and the list of improvements covered under the grant has changed.

Changes to the residential program are expected to launch this year as well, according to Toffelmire. 

"We hope to get more people involved this year," she said. 

For more information on the Water Smart Business Grant, including a step-by-step guide and application forms, visit okotoks.ca/water-grant.


Lauryn Heintz

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