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MD Reeve David Cox states, “Crowsnest River is low, not dry.”

Picture of the temporary pump site for the MD of Pincher Creek showing intake levels and the pump position. MD of Pincher Creek photo.

Nicholas L. M. Allen

Mar 6, 2024

Water continues to flow in the Crowsnest River past the meter in Frank as of March 3.

Crowsnest River has not run dry, as water continues to flow past the meter in Frank as of March 3.

David Cox, the reeve for the Municipal District of Pincher Creek, spoke about what is happening with the Crowsnest River’s water level and what the MD is doing to combat low levels for water treatment plant, which does not include any digging of the riverbed.

Contrary to earlier reports, Cox clarified that the river is not dry but running at a low level as per the The misconception about the river being dry has led to many media inquiries, prompting Cox to set the record straight.

He emphasized that all three rivers in the area are low due to drought conditions, but the main issue highlighted by Cox is the location of the intake pipes within the dam’s footprint. With the dam’s water level significantly reduced, the intake pipes are out of the water, affecting water supply. 

“We’ve been pumping water into the intake since December, and we are supplementing it by hauling some potable water,” said Cox.

To combat this, the MD of Pincher Creek has applied for and received permits to set up a temporary pumping system, drawing water from the Crowsnest River into one of the intake pipes. Cox clarified that there is no excavation inside the stream, debunking claims of ‘mining for the last drop of water’ in the river.

“The picture that’s in the article showed an excavator sitting there. It is there to place the rig mats and move the pump if it needs to. But there is no excavation done inside the stream. So, the comment that we’re mining to get the last drop of the water is truly inflammatory,” said Cox.

Cox expressed gratitude for the cooperation received from environmental agencies and the provincial government. 

Looking ahead, the MD has applied to drill into an aquifer within the dam’s footprint, presenting a potential backup water source. 

The reeve is optimistic about the feedback received, suggesting a fast-track process, with hopes of starting drilling in March.

Cox debunked claims of a dry river and clarified the measures taken to address the water supply issue. He expressed frustration with misleading information and emphasized the importance of accurate reporting. 

“If you go north of Cowley on (Highway) 510. Just when you are sitting on the bridge on the 510 going north, you can look right at the site, it’s like within a quarter mile of that bridge,” explained Cox.

The MD continues to face challenges due to the drought, keeping water restrictions until a reliable water supply is assured. 

Mayor Blair Painter of the Crowsnest Pass also expressed strong disagreement with the characterization that the Crowsnest River as running dry, saying that such information is entirely false and misleading. 

He emphasized that the wording of earlier articles could lead people to believe there is no water in the river, which he clarified is not the case. 

In addressing concerned residents, Mayor Painter reassured them that the community has a sufficient water supply.

“I would really like to reassure our residents that we do have a good supply of water. That does not mean that we shouldn’t be considering how we use water and how to use it wisely and not waste it,” said Painter.

He also mentioned ongoing discussions at the Council about water stewardship to manage water usage more effectively.

“We had discussion around revisiting the installation of water meters in our community,” added Painter.

Visit for up to the date information about the flows of different rivers and creeks throughout Alberta. 

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