Report on Lacombe County’s Sylvan Lake Wastewater Proposal

Dozens of property owners from the Kuusamo Krest, Yuill, Palm Cove and Blissfull Beach communities on Sylvan Lake who would be affected by the Lacombe County Sanitary Servicing Project attended a meeting tonight with Council for a presentation and discussion of the proposal.

The County’s policy requires each of the four groups to install community sewage systems that connect individual holding tanks to a large central containment vessel that would be pumped out and transferred by road to the existing dump station on Aspelund Road. From there, waste would be pipelined to the Town of Sylvan Lake sewage treatment facility.

The two goals of the project are (i) to protect Sylvan Lake water quality from potential seepage of nutrient and bacteriological contaminants and (ii) to prepare smaller communities within Lacombe County jurisdiction for the anticipated connection to fresh water supply and sewage treatment services in the City of Red Deer.

Many of the Lacombe County property owners in the audience who listened to the presentation were not convinced about either the environmental protection claim or the project’s economic merits. For owners who have already invested in, upgraded and maintained their existing sewage handling systems and who contract for a routine pump-out service the proposed change would not increase lake protection. They have achieved that goal already.

Economically, most would be forced pay a high capital cost to install new equipment that complies with the proposed design standard, and would face possibly higher operating costs. Even a federal government subsidy of about $1.3 million for the $4.4 million project did not seem to generate much enthusiasm. The details are included in the report that is linked above.

The County plan offered no alternative, including exemption of those property owners who already meet an equivalent technical standard for waste containment and handling.

Property owners could see that the elusive Sylvan Lake Regional Water and Waste Water Commission’s concept for nearly $100 million of extra pipeline and water processing infrastructure, without a clear implementation timetable, did not justify an additional premature personal investment. Alberta’s capital spending on municipalities is severely constrained today and that is expected to continue while provincial revenues remain depressed.

An impromptu vote by Kuusamo Krest residents present suggested that many in the audience were opposed to the Lacombe County proposal. Formally, property owners are asked to respond to a survey that is also posted on the County website. The Municipal Government Act’s rules for over-riding an unpopular Council decision were explained to the audience.

And that’s where it ended.

Vacuum truck operators await further clarification of their future business opportunity.

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