Water Conservation, Efficiency & Productivity Plan

CEP Plan 5-Year Review: Targets and Initiatives Summary


In 2016, The City of Red Deer released the Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity (CEP) Plan (pdf) as mandated by Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. The plan provides an overview of the City’s water system, water use trends, and recommended targets and initiatives.

 River Panoramic shot

The CEP Plan outlines two targets:

  1. Water use for the residential and Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) sectors.
  2. Water loss reduction for unmetered water used for City operations, metering inaccuracies, data handling errors, and real, and physical water loss (i.e., thefts, leakages, and water main breaks).

Progress has been made towards achieving these targets and there has been a downward trend in water use. Water losses have been reduced from 11% to 3% since the CEP Plan was released meaning the 2035 target for water loss reduction has been achieved, in addition to the 2020 water usage target for the ICI sectors. This is a huge achievement for The City.

How We Got Here

The significant reduction in water losses can be attributed to the implementation of the Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) project and the improved accuracy of the new water meters. AMR has allowed The City to identify early billing errors and high water use among customers, which can be quickly addressed. The City has also improved its processes related to water leak identification, water main repairs and water main replacements.

Water conservation targets were also achieved in the residential sector by expanding The City's rebate programs, offering a conservation toolkit at the public library, and introducing water conservation guidelines that limit Red Deer’s potable water use when there are risks of water shortages.


Due to growing water demands across the region, the CEP Plan is a key document that will help secure the future of Red Deer’s water supply through the targets and initiatives. It aligns with our Water goals in the Environmental Master Plan.

Initiatives Update

Click on each initiative to learn more about the current status.

Develop a Pressure Management Strategy.

Pressure management helps to achieve more consistent and lower water pressure levels through the distribution system, reducing the volume of water delivered. It also detects potential leaks or thefts in the system due to pressure fluctuations.

This project is ongoing. To date, approximately 30 pressure nodes have been installed at various locations throughout the city. More pressure nodes need to be installed and this project will require multiple years to complete.

Explore the feasibility of setting up District Metering Areas (DMAs).

District Metering Areas help to address leaks before they appear at the surface. The city is divided into sections. Water flow is monitored in each of these sections – the flow of water entering the area is checked against theoretical flow. If a significant difference between volumes is found, targeted leak detection actions are taken to pinpoint and repair the leaks.

This project is ongoing. Water Utility is trialing the South Hill Pressure zone for the first trial district. Further investigations will be required to determine the next area to meter. This project will require multiple years to complete.

Water audits of all City-owned facilities.

Audits help to gain a better understanding of the sources of water losses and inefficiencies, and actions that should be taken to minimize the losses.

This project is partially completed. In 2017, water audits were completed in three facilities being used for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Some measures that were recommended in the audit reports were implemented ahead of the Games, including installing high efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators.

Explore the feasibility of requiring contractors to obtain water from bulk filling stations.

Instead of allowing access to hydrants for potable water, contractors must obtain their water through pre-paid bulk filling stations. The intention is to discourage over-consumption, as currently contractors only need to report to The City on the volume of water obtained from hydrants.

This project is partially completed. Bulk filling stations were installed in Clearview and Edgar. The city is hoping to install a station at the Waste Management Facility and by the Water Treatment Plant in the years to come.

Explore stormwater harvesting, greywater re-use and wastewater effluent re-use opportunities at City facilities and land.

Explore the possibility of stormwater, greywater and wastewater effluent re-use at municipal facilities/property for non-potable water uses, including washing fleet and equipment, toilet flushing, site irrigation, cooling and other industrial processes.

This project is in progress. Water reuse is complex and challenging due to the rigorous guidelines and there are currently limited resources to support this initiative. The City has learned that a reverse osmosis filtering system may be required for some sites to filter out the salts and chlorides that are present. Removing the chlorides will likely be required and it is a costly long-term process. This initiative will require multiple years to complete.

Extend current City Hall Park soil amendments and irrigation practices to other irrigated City properties.

Currently at City Hall Park, the following actions are taken which help to conserve water use: the use of a rain gauge, which helps with determining the appropriate output from the irrigation system and minimize excess water use on lawn, hand watering only for plants and shrubs, and the application of organic fertilizer and humic acid to improve soil quality and water retention. Using City Hall Park as a model, extend the use of these practices to other City properties.

Not completed. Deferred due to budget constraints. Many properties are irrigated and aerated but not at the same level as City Hall Park.

Update the agreement between regional water customers to improve the consistency of water conservation messaging and actions across municipalities.

There is a lack of uniformity and consistency in the water conservation messages and actions set out across municipalities. Messages and actions refer to drought management strategies and policies, and public educational campaigns. Research should be undertaken to determine if it is feasible to include a regional, collaborative approach to develop and implement specific water conservation strategies.

Completed. Regional agreements were reviewed in 2018 to ensure consistency in the language used in the agreements. Water conservation guidelines were developed that include a staged approach to implementing water use restrictions in Red Deer and for regional partners.

Review Land Use Bylaw’s landscaping standards to incorporate greater sustainable landscaping and Low Impact Development (LID) practices related to the Engineering Design Guidelines.

Sustainable landscaping refers to the modification and enhancement of a lot or development to promote water efficiency and reduce dependence on fertilizers and pesticides. While sustainable landscaping is already incorporated in the Land Use Bylaw, there are still opportunities to strengthen the minimum requirements, make the requirements more specific and detailed, and add LID concepts (rain gardens, tree trenches, etc.).

In progress. The Land Use Bylaw (LUB) currently requires 15% of all landscaping plans to contain sustainable landscaping. Due to efficiencies, it is now standard practice that most landscaping be done using sustainable practices. Therefore the 15% minimum is commonly met and easily attained.

Create restrictions for the times of day that hydrants can be used.

To prevent thefts at night, hydrants may only be used during specified hours. Emergency Services would be excluded from these time restrictions.

Initiative removed. Hydrant use has been replaced with bulk filling stations, so this recommended initiative is no longer applicable.

Expand water conservation rebates to other appliances and/or items.

Continue the Toilet Rebate and Rain Barrel Rebate Programs and explore the expansion of rebates to water-efficient household appliances or landscaping resources, such as organic/inorganic mulch, rain gauges for irrigation and drought tolerant ground cover or artificial turf.

Completed. Rain barrel rebates introduced in 2016. Mulch and native/drought-tolerant plant rebates introduced in 2019. Looking at introducing new rebates in the future, such as high-efficiency showerheads and faucets.

Sell discounted water saver kits.

Sell water saver kits to residents at an affordable price. The indoor water saver kit contains items such as a low flow showerhead, faucet sink aerators, and leak detection dye tablets. The outdoor kit contains items such as a mechanical water timer, screw clamp hose mender, hose washers, and rain gauge.

Partially completed. Instead of selling water saver kits to residents, an energy and water conservation toolkit was created and is available to borrow for free from the Red Deer Public Library. Kit includes drip gauge and flow meter bag, in addition to other energy saving tools. The kits are continuing to be checked out regularly.

Develop a water efficiency audit and retrofit program.

Building on the EMP’s water conservation action of assisting ICI with conducting water audits, develop a program that provides financial support for institutional, commercial or industrial water audits and/or retrofits. Complimentary audits may be explored as an option for non-profit organizations and public educational institutions.

Completed. Developed a hotel water audit program where The City would cover 50% of the cost of an audit for participating hotels. No hotels that were contacted expressed interest, in part due to economic challenges.

Showcase water conservation operations at City facilities.

Install educational signs and displays at City buildings that showcase The City’s leadership in water conservation work (LID, water recycling and re-use, rainwater harvesting, etc.). This could extend to open houses and tours of City facilities, to be continued throughout the 2019 Winter Games.

Completed. Installed water conservation education signage at City facilities that were in use for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Explore the feasibility of offering tours of the Water Treatment Plant and Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Explore the logistics of offering tours and/or virtual tours of the WTP and WWTP for members of the public, including school groups.

Completed. Public tours are offered at the Water Treatment Plant by request. There are safety concerns associated with conducting in-person tours at the Wastewater Treatment Plant; the possibility of offering video/virtual tours was investigated in 2017, however no further progress has been made.

Re-design the City water website as an interactive resource.

Design a comprehensive and interactive website that educates and informs residents about The City’s water conservation initiatives, tips and guides to conserving water at home.

Partially completed. Water Section’s webpages were updated in 2018 and are being reviewed annually. At this time, it is not possible to make the webpage more interactive due to limited capabilities of the webpage platform.

Promote Low Impact Development (LID) concepts.

Highlight, promote and support LID concepts for residents, ICI customers and City facilities. These include rain gardens, tree trenches and green roofs.

In progress. The LID Working Group was established in 2019 that includes City department representatives. Monitoring of existing LID projects is currently being conducted to assess the effectiveness of the projects and to ensure success if implemented across the City.

Incorporate sustainability topics in Recreation programs for children and youth.

Introduce concepts about water conservation, energy conservation, waste diversion and other sustainability topics to children and youth programs offered by Recreation.

Partially completed. There are connections to this initiative through City programs such as Meet Me at the Park and the projects supported by the Environmental Initiatives Grants.

Explore the feasibility of developing a certification for water conserving homes.

Develop a program that gives home sellers opportunities to certify homes as being “Water Conserving,” provided that the homes meet certain water conservation criteria inside and around their homes (e.g. low-flow appliances, rain water harvesting, etc.).

Not completed, due to limited capacity and shift in priorities.

Create an annual water efficiency excellence award.

One ICI customer is awarded annually (or bi-annually), based on set criteria, including percentage of water savings over a specified period of time, water conservation innovation initiatives, staff and customer engagement, operational tools, and regulatory/policy tools.

Not completed, due to limited capacity and shift in priorities.

Create an Eco-Restaurant Certification Program.

Create a program that certifies restaurants that meet certain environmental sustainability criteria for water conservation, energy efficiency, and waste diversion.

Not completed due to limited capacity and shift in priorities.