Ma-Me-O Beach residents are concerned over continuous waste sewage system issues, resulting in the collection system being shut down for the third winter in a row.
The collection system has frozen and thawed in the past two years due to the heat trace system not functioning, and this year the system is facing a similar issue. The reoccurring freezing and thawing has resulted in damage and leaks throughout the collection pipe.
Residents in the area are concerned by the leaks and say that there have been leaks of sewer contamination discovered at several locations by contractors performing excavations to connect residences.
Part of this concern comes from the worry that the leaks have the potential to end up in the aquifer that supplies Ma-Me-O Beaches’ potable water.
“We are concerned for the environment, we are concerned for our drinking water,” said one of the Ma-Me-O Beach residents Ron Lupton. Lupton has been part of a group of residents that are trying to bring awareness to this issue in their community.
Lupton himself says he tests his tap water once a month to check for contamination. “Most people now won’t even drink their water,” Lupton said.
In 2016 Ma-Me-O Beach Council announced that the sewage system would be installed with the funding from the village, provincial and federal governments at a cost of around $3 million.
“It’s a very expensive system to only run for summer months,” said Lupton.
According to Lupton this winter only 27 out of the 279 lots at Ma-Me-O Beach are connected to the system.
In their December update on the Waste Water Project the Summer Village of Ma-Me-O Beach stated that residents who are connected to the system need to pump out their sewage into holding tanks over the winter. Residents are asked to provide copies of their paid invoices for this to the Summer Village Office for reimbursement.
Lupton said besides the system not running for the past three winters, the residents feel left in the dark by the Ma-Me-O Beach Council.
“They aren’t very transparent about it,” said Lupton. Between the hiring of third party contractors to fix the issues with the system, and rising concerns that the leaks could cause significant issues with the aquifer, some residents say they feel as if the Council is not keeping them informed.
This summer the Village Council cancelled their open information annual meeting with the community due to COVID-19 concerns and mailed out information regarding the system assuring them that it was being dealt with. Residents like Lupton felt like cancelling the meeting meant that Council didn’t want to hear them voice their concerns.
Lupton says that he has written to the Village Council, MLA Rick Wilson, Alberta Minister Jason Nixon and Premiere Jason Kenney with his concerns.
Lupton says, “It’s not just affecting Ma-Me-O Beach, it is affecting a large part of the province if it gets into the aquifers.”
Lupton says he will continue to bring his concerns up to Council and asks for more transparency on the situation at hand between Council and residents of Ma-Me-O Beach.