Group says wastewater alternatives exist for Pigeon Lake

A non-profit group active in the Pigeon Lake area says local governments and other decision-makers aren’t considering...

A non-profit group active in the Pigeon Lake area says local governments and other decision-makers aren’t considering all alternatives when it comes to wastewater systems.

The Pigeon LakeWise group dropped by the Pipestone Flyer May 3 to discuss local government’s apparent preference for low-pressure wastewater systems for residences around Pigeon Lake.

The issue of wastewater around Pigeon Lake has been controversial for years, as the algae blooms that affect recreation in Pigeon Lake are usually blamed on nutrients getting into the lake from human waste.

Dan Neil, a resident of the Pigeon Lake area, a member of Pigeon LakeWise Society and a retired engineer who worked both in the private and public sector, partly for the Government of Alberta, said in his opinion a person does not need to be an engineer to see problems with low-pressure wastewater systems which, basically, rely on wastewater flow to function as intended.

Neil said in the summer, Pigeon Lake is busy, so the low-pressure systems would likely have lots of material to keep the flow going. However, other than peak summer months, in the winter the villages around Pigeon Lake are less occupied, and the communal pipes will be prone to inadequate flow, producing hydrogen sulfide gas, pipe channel obstruction and build-up of toxic waste material, bacteria, as well as the risk of lines freezing.

“Wolf Creek had a similar problem of low flow during winter months and lines freezing,” noted Neil in a written statement. “The solution was to significantly increase the line flow by installing a freshwater well to constantly feed potable water into the line to keep it from freezing. A solution like that would probably also increase the system’s velocity in those time periods, but to me it seems like a wasteful and environmentally (unsound) thing to do.

“This is where good planning comes in. The period when a project is first conceived is where you make decisions that have the greatest impact on overall cost.”

He noted the low-pressure systems could benefit from a shut-off valve which could address the freeze-up problem when the property owner isn’t around for long periods of time, but noted utility companies have been known to charge up to $350 for staff to turn on or off such a valve.

“So, if you want peace of mind, having a shut-off valve would protect from improper flow in the communal pipes into resident systems when you are away for extended periods of time,” Neil stated. “Except for the charge for turning that valve on and off. In Yellowhead County that charge is $50 per disconnection and $50 per reconnection, which is more reasonable. But I can see that it would be expensive for an owner who would want peace of mind, if they made several trips back and forth per year.”

Neil said Cadomin developed a “winterization” booklet for their low-pressure systems and freeze-up problems. “They had low population in the winter months and the collection lines froze,” stated Neil. The solution was to add heat tape to the collection lines, at a cost of $250,000. Yellowhead County proposed a low-pressure system for Marlboro in 2013. Officials have stated as Marlboro has a steady year round population, they do not anticipate the problems that Cadomin encountered.

Neil also pointed out Surrey, B.C. only allows low-pressure systems under certain conditions. “…developers were trying to use low-pressure (systems) as a means to lower costs of installation in spite of a higher need for maintenance with considerable costs, for the municipality that maintains them even though it was possible to build gravity systems,” stated Neil.

Neil noted that low-pressure systems generally have lower costs for developers, and higher maintenance costs for property owners. Gravity systems, which Neil stated are feasible for Pigeon Lake area, are more expensive for developers, but more reasonable cost-wise for property owners down the line. Only with gravity systems can wastewater users “flush and forget”, which most lake area residents assumed is the system they’ll get.

The Pigeon LakeWise group takes the position that gravity systems are the best option, especially in Greenfield situations. Neil stated they’re reliable and have been used for a long time and should last about 60 years.

He used the example of Habitat Acres, a cluster low-pressure system of 17 dwellings capable of growing to 29. “They use a combination of STE pressure and STE gravity for homes with higher elevation,” stated Neil. “I haven’t really heard of any operational problems with this system. It has the advantage of a short retention time as the treatment system is in close proximity to the dwellings which may be the key to its success.

“You can’t allow sewage to sit in a collection pipe,” added Neil. “It needs to flow with enough velocity to clean itself.” A low pressure system design used in the context of long collection and transmission lines for communities with a high seasonal fluctuation in population carries with it considerable risk. The preference should be a gravity system or utilizing holding tanks with utilizing improved and more economical testing methods to assure compliance.

More information is available online at PigeonLakeWiseSociety.wordpress.com.

 

Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read