Lacombe County Coun. Brenda Knight, who is also chairperson of the the Hwy 12/21 Regional Water Services Commission, speaks to a crowd of about 50 residents during a town hall meeting in Bashaw Feb. 9. ECA Review/L. Joy
Bashaw residents wanted to know why the town was going to tap into the Hwy 12/21 water line and expressed concerns about increased costs to their utility bills and wanted to know if the town could pull out of their agreement to join.
“It would cost $500,000 to get out,” Town of Bashaw Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller told the approximate 50 residents who attended a community engagement session in Bashaw Feb. 9 to learn more about the 20-kilometre water line being constructed between Bashaw and Mirror.
The line is part of the Hwy 12/21 regional water line.
CAO Fuller said she did the cost comparison of Bashaw pulling out of the Hwy 12/21 commission and staying and the costs were about the same.
In addition, she said pulling out also requires ministerial approval, which may not happen.
The province announced grant funding last fall for the estimated $7 million Mirror to Bashaw water line. The federal government has committed $3.5 million, which represents 50 per cent of the project cost and the provincial government will pay $2.8 million, or 40 per cent.
The Hwy 12/21 commission will pay the remaining 10 per cent.
Residents will pay $178.22 every two months, up from about the current $128.20. There may, however, be a reduction in rates in 2018.
“We’re working hard to evaluate and make sure the rates are fair,” said CAO Fuller.
Lacombe County Coun. Brenda Knight, who is chairperson of the Hwy 12/21 Regional Water Services Commission, said being a part of the regional water line is a “huge economic development tool.”
Coun. Knight said the idea of a regional water line started after there was an issue in Alix with wells going dry.
She told Bashaw residents that they may not have a problem today but they may in 50 years. She said councils made decisions in good faith to join a regional water line and did it with a long-term vision.
Keith Boras, Manager of the Hwy 12/21 Regional Water Commission, who is also Manager of Environmental and Protective Services at Lacombe County, said there will be 80 kilometres of pipe once the Mirror to Bashaw line is complete.
Boras said Lacombe County pushed for an oversized line, 14-inch pipe instead of 12 inch.
“This allows us to service more members down the line.”
Stephan Weninger, senior associate of Stantec in Red Deer, told those in attendance that the water line will mean residents will use more sustainable surface water from the Red Deer River instead of ground water from wells.
He said residents will notice that the water will be harder and have less sodium.
“It will take you a week or two to get used to it.”
Residents may notice milky white water for a few days after the system starts up.
“Don’t be alarmed,” said Weninger. “It’s the start of the new system.”
The water will be piped in from the Stettler Water Treatment Plant, which uses a disinfection process called Chloramination instead of Chlorination.
Chloraminiation is a combination of chlorine and a small amount of ammonia.
Chloramines are added to the drinking water to disinfect it and eliminate bacteria that causes waterborne diseases.
Weninger said that about 50 per cent of Albertans already use chloraminated water including Edmonton, Athabasca, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Stettler and Lethbridge.
He said the water is safe for animals but not reptiles and fish.
He said that the local health authority knows about the changeover to chloramination.
The water can’t be used in dialysis.
Mechanisms are in place in the event of an emergency including a four-stage rationing system.
Tender for the Mirror to Bashaw portion will go out soon and it’s expected to take about six months to build.
Clive is expected to be connected to the line in 2019.