The Alberta Federation of Rural Water Co-operatives Ltd. (AFRWC) was formed in 1994 to address the diverse water needs of Alberta’s rural residents. The AFRWC was originally formed in Southern Alberta, an area plagued by water shortages and drought. Farmers, ranchers, and rural dwellers came together to create distribution systems to get water to their homes and livestock. Some of this water was potable water, some used for livestock and irrigation.
The water co-ops were formed to pool resources, to share ownership and costs, and to share the benefits of a self-owned system.
Today there are over 170 water co-ops in the province, 100 of which are members of the Federation with over 3,600 connections.
The AFRWC is a collective identity recognized by the Government of Alberta and its associates including departments such as Rural Utilities and Environmental Protection. The AFRWC also has a working relationship with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The AFRWC administration is comprised of seven directors covering different areas in the province each dealing with different water situations.
The individual co-op members elect a Board of Directors to oversee the operation of the co-op. Depending on the size of the utility, they may hire a manager to direct the administrative and service staff. Each year the members of a co-op gather at an annual meeting to consider the financial affairs, the business of the co-op and to elect new directors to replace those whose terms have expired.
Co-ops vary in size from as small as 6 connections to 1,200. Sources of water are also very diverse ranging from wells, dugouts, reservoirs, rivers, and nearby towns/cities with their own water source making health of rural residents a major concern.
The AFRWC actively promotes "working together" with similar groups and associations to share resources and knowledge.
Currently as members of the Rural Utilities and Safety Association (RUSA), we are able to work with similar utilities such as water and gas to resolve common issues and challenges and to create new opportunities for our members and our rural communities.