Wrong Place, Wrong TIme, Wrong Design.
PLWA Wants Answers
Friday, April 13, 2012
Dansol International Inc. has made initial application to Leduc County for the approval of a Local Area Structure Plan (LASP) to create Watermere Resort. The proposed 300 acre site will include 1,149 dwellings, commercial buildings, hotel and spa. It is located on the Northwest end of Pigeon Lake on the west side of Highway 771 across from Zeiner Park and to the North of Tide Creek.
Ryan Devlin, volunteer Director and Communication Committee member of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA) spoke on behalf of PLWA. The group includes full and part-time watershed residents who are concerned about the health of the lake.
“We are not anti-development,” assures Devlin. “We are for smart, sustainable development that holds the environment in its highest priority. The lake is stressed and we have a good understanding as to why. Now we need to take action.”
Devlin admits much of the detailed information about the development’s impact on the lake is not available or required at the time of subdivision approval. Most questions the PLWA and residents have have not been answered by developers as they make their initial LASP application to Leduc County.
One question is regarding the possibility that the development land contains peat, which is defined by Alberta Environment and Water as a wetland. Devlin says the proponent has done some geotechnical work (and, he believes, a biophysical assessment) which has indicated the land contains some peat.
Peatland is an important biofilter for mechanical entraption. It helps reduce pollutants entering into vital spawning areas and provides habitat for a variety of life.
Of equal concern is the potential transformation of the peatland into storm water catchments or “lakes”. It can be assumed that these peatlands currently provide areas of groundwater recharge. By transforming the natural areas into man-made “lakes” for containment of storm water, these recharge areas may no longer contribute to Pigeon Lake’s water balance.
According to Devlin, PLWA has been told in a meeting with Dansol that documentation regarding water balance existed; however they have not seen it to date.
“When we develop these integrated water management plans, there has to be a balance of water coming in and going out of a development.”
High water table
Devlin explains when we construct a lot of buildings with pilings, foundations, basements and driveways, we significantly change how the water flows towards the lake—both on the surface and underground. Where is the rainfall going to go? Where is it going to collect? How will it be conveyed to the lake?
“You have to make sure the amount of water that goes into the ground prior to development is the same after development so we can recharge our ground water and ensure pollutants are properly removed prior to entering the lake. We would love to see more information on this.”
The stress of increased usage
How will people access the lake? What will providing access for resort residents do to the shorelines which are already stressed?
Everyone wants the nice white beaches with no weeds (aquatic or riparian vegetation), but they are very important to the ecosystem—to the health of the lake and the riparian areas. Riparian areas are immediately adjacent to the bank or shoreline and they are home to insects and small aquatic invertebrates. Fish feed and spawn there.
Tide Creek especially is a very sensitive area and is a fish bearing stream. PLWA is concerned about the potential impact on these sensitive areas.
Where will the water come from?
One of the questions is from where are they going to get the water for the catchment lakes? Devlin speculates it may come from a variety of sources with precipitation as a primary source; there is also a potential for tapping into ground water.
But what will happen during years of drought, when there isn’t the precipitation required to supply the amount of potable water needed? No information has been provided about the availability of water in the area. Are they going to augment this potable water with highly treated wastewater? This must be addressed.
There is also a concern about using the ponds for collecting the stormwater runoff.
“AEW will most likely not approve a facility as they are proposing unless there is a back-up plan. To our knowledge, what’s being proposed has not been approved in Alberta because the legislation does not allow it.”
Essentially, Devlin would agree with Dansol’s claim that the wastewater coming out of their treatment facility is good enough to drink—there is technology that can do that.
However, the technical piece is not where the challenge is; it is in the regulatory piece which does not currently allow that.
Another PLWA concern is when the potable water source is located so close to the wastewater, what does the water balance look like? What are the mitigation measures for non-compliance of water treatment quality? Where is the waste from this system going to go? The setback distances of the water and wastewater treatment facilities have not been addressed and may change the layout and design of the system.
Wastewater Treatment Concerns
“Dr. Bruce Jank, Dansol Consultant and CEO of Canadian Clean Water Technologies, has proposed a waste water treatment plant process that, the way it was described to us, has not been constructed in its entirety anywhere in North America. What he describes is that the pieces of the wastewater treatment plant have been in operation throughout North America—and I would agree with that—but as a whole treatment system, it hasn’t.”
“So we would like to see a little more detail because we would like to know where is the treated wastewater going to go? Is it all going to go into the potable water system? Is it going to go back into the ground, as they suggest? And if so, where is the scientific support to the claim that that land can infiltrate that volume of water and not have any deleterious effects on the surrounding environment?”
Wastewater Collection System-
Centralized or decentralized?
PLWA would like to propose if we’re going to develop any land, consideration should be given to connecting to the centralized regional system that would convey the sewage long distances to the Mulhurst treatment facility.
“I think we can get a lot of support from the summer villages, too,” says Devlin confidently. “The goal of our Pigeon Lake collective is to regionalize the wastewater collection system because of the density of development.”
PLWA understands the potential benefits of the decentralized model, however, for this project, the densities are too high and the environmental conditions are not ideal. This leads to risk.
The Dansol group, on the other hand, suggests that decentralization is the way to go—collecting, treating, and disposing of the wastewater onsite for a community. Devlin thinks Dansol needs to justify why decentralization is a better system. PLWA would support Dansol connecting to the regional system immediately and that to be their only plan.
Ownership management of the infrastructure:
Who is ultimately responsible for owning and operating the development’s infrastructure? The developer? A bare land condo association? A homeowners’ association? Leduc County? The first three could own and operate the system facility themselves or they could contract out the facility operations (and possibly ownership) to a third party—such as a utility company.
“But here’s the catch, notes Devlin. “Sometimes associations go bankrupt. Sometimes utility companies—if they can’t make money—will walk away. So who’s going to pick up the pieces? You can’t just have a residential community and nobody providing them with potable water and wastewater services.
This could leave Leduc County on the hook. It has happened before. Alberta Environment will require a municipality to step in the case of emergency to operate the facility. Leduc County is now put in the position where they have to be prepared for that possibility. The question PLWA has for Leduc County is: are you prepared to engage this facility as a potential owner-operator?
“If Leduc County Council believes Pigeon Lake is a truly environmentally sensitive area, we would like additional environmental work to be done to prove or disprove a claim that this is not going to be deleterious to the environment.”
The PLWA hopes the County will recognize the need for this additional information prior to subdivision approval and that under the Municipal Government Act, they have the power to do so.
In their submission to Leduc County, PLWA states, “the lake is at a tipping point and action must be taken to protect the lake and the natural environment. It is critical that any development in the watershed be done in a sustainable environmentally responsible way, to mitigate what has occurred and to enhance the future health of the lake and its watershed."
“The theme from the PLWA," states Devlin, "along with our submissions…is that this is the wrong place, wrong design, and wrong time.”
- The Old Car Detective A hilarious story comes our way from Ted Okkerse, Publisher of the Pipestone Flyer in Wetaskiwin, Alberta: “In 1961, at age 17, I bought a 1940 Chevy 4-door sedan for $40.00. When Dad and I got it home we parked it ...
- Remember When? For a video of this event click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Wy8YAfIB7w The Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society held its 16th Annual Cutter Rally on Sunday, February 16th at the Agricultural Society grounds. There ...
- Chasing a Dream Bailee Warner is a very special young lady. She is an 8th Grade student attending Leduc Junior High and when she’s not hitting the books she is training to become the best at Taekwondo she can be. Don’t be deceived ...
- Family Day UNPLUGGED WARBURG Close to 100 people unplugged from their TVs, cell phones, and digital devices and plugged into the 2014 Warburg Family Day activities held at the arena on Monday, January 17. Participants enjoyed both indoor ...
- Horse Confusion Continues The Alberta SPCA may be listed on the ESRD website as being part of The Feral Horse Advisory Committee but in fact, was not. On February 21st The Alberta SPCA released this statement: “Despite what has been ...
- Interim Fire Chief Selected For Thorsby Village of Thorsby Chief Administrative Officer Jason Gariepy announced that Nicholas Maryka, a Thorsby resident and seven-year member of the Thorsby Fire Department, has been selected as Interim Fire Chief. “Maryka ...
- The Problem With Wearing Two Hats Norm Osness, Former Thorsby Fire Chief, remains at a loss to explain why he was forced to hang up his helmet by then Interim CAO, Kevin Robins. Council and Administration are on record saying his dismissal was ...
- Food Bank Donation Linda Blumenthal from Second Glance (on right) presents a cheque to Leduc & District Food Bank board member, Nadine Leming, for $5,000.00. Second Glance provides funding raised through their storefront, to numerous local ...
- LOCAL 4-H CLUB ;REPORTS LEDUC 4-H BEEF CLUB REPORT The Leduc 4-H Beef Club has been a busy club these past few months. Some exciting things went on and some new things are coming up shortly, stay tuned! Public Speaking was held on February ...
- Wetaskiwin Hospital staff rallied behind Pink Shirt Day Staff in the Wetaskiwin Hospital led by Linda Armson, joined the campaign against bullying. “Last year I knew about it and just thought with all our hospital workers we could use it (awareness about bullying) in a place ...
- Wetaskiwin is in the pink Gord Hinse, Offensive Lineman & Ryan King, long snapper, Edmonton Eskimos sign autographs. Photo by Barry McDonald. “In total 639 shirts have gone out into the community again this year and 1000 pink shirt wrist bands. ...
- Without Strings On February 26, 2014, Griffiths Scott Middle School Drama Club performed an adaptation of Carlo Colladi’s classic, Pinocchio, by Patrick Rainville Dorn. Admission was $3.00 with proceeds supporting the drama program. ...
- An Irish Honour A seemingly simple invitation that was given and accepted has now "taken on a life of its own!" In the words of Mike Skinner, Guard Commander of the Leduc Fire Regional Guard of Honour. And word has spread like wildfire ...
- Charitable Donation Loretta Hannah (on right) on behalf of the City of Leduc FCSS Family Fun Fair event, happily accepts a cheque from Second Glance Executive Director Linda Blumenthal, in the amount of $6,000.00. Photo by Lorna Lowe.
- Hidden Gem Head Chef Anna Diogo (on left) and General Manager Sherrill Campbell (on right) are justifiably proud proponents of the Nisku Recreation Centre. If I told you there was a little known spot nestled in the trees with wildlife ...
- Reconfiguration Within Black Gold Schools in Leduc On Wednesday, Feb. 26 the Black Gold Regional School (BGRS) division held on open house to the public regarding Leduc schools configuration review. The purpose of the open house was to allow parents a chance to give ...
- Alison Better Listen to Lincoln Alison Redford and Stephen Harper could learn much from Abraham Lincoln. For example, one practice Lincoln adopted was to select the very best minds for positions in his cabinet irrespective of party allegiance. He didn't ...
- Hero in Plaid The MFD held its Award Night Banquet at The Millet Agriplex March 1, 2014. VIP’s attending the Awards Night were MP Blaine Calkins and his wife Barb, Sean Burke of 93.1 “The One” Leduc, from the Town of Millet Mayor ...
- Look Way Up! Acronaires put on an excellent performance at Leduc’s Ecole Corinthia Park School on February 18. Above is a family of five which include two students who are currently in the French immersion program, Quinn and Tristan (top), ...
- Thanks for Serving On February 23, 2014, Leduc-Beaumont MLA George Rogers presented Reverend Joanne Webster with an official Thank-you from the Alberta Legislature for her spiritual leadership to the residents of Leduc and area. Webster served ...