County news: Budget concerns affect lagoon upgrades project

The County of Wetaskiwin’s Alder Flats lagoon upgrades and expansion project is coming in over budget.

The County of Wetaskiwin’s Alder Flats lagoon upgrades and expansion project is coming in over budget.

At county council’s Oct. 18 meeting councillors discussed options to try to reduce the scope of the project and pull money from other places to cover costs, while still meeting Alberta Environment guidelines.

Council accepted a tender of $3.5 million at the meeting. In a separate motion councillors approved taking $470,00 from a Range Road 74 road construction project and moving it to the lagoon funds.

Even the lowest tender came in over the $2.9 million budget and council was forced to look into alternatives.

Funding for the project was based on approval of $981,867 coming each from the federal, provincial and municipal governments, off-site levies of $447,937 and a local improvement levy amounting to $533,929.

Dave Dextraze, director of public works, informed council high water content in the ground has created slope stabilization issues and extra studies had to be done to see how the project would be impacted. “As we got into the design there were some other factors that come into play for us.”

Dextraze says among other unanticipated changes the storage cell needed to be expanded, an interceptor drain was needed and more trees around the site were required. He added he wants to “bare bones” the truck dumping station to help reduce the workload of the project.

Coun. Lyle Seely questioned why the county does not change its direction and look at a self-contained system, which he says would not need a lagoon and could be enclosed in a building.

Council was told this could possibly make the project cheaper or more expensive, depending on what is in the waste.

“Even with these chemical treatment plants you still need storage,” said Dextraze, and more storage is what the lagoon currently needs.

High ammonia levels in the waste is a concern and council was informed it is not easy to chemically remove ammonia; the better option is long-term storage.

It was also Seely’s idea to take the money from the road construction budget, as he feels Range Road 74 can still go a few more years without clay capping.