Fair, respectful and responsible solution

This is following up to my January letter in response to the Water Diversion Application from Lone Pine Hutterite Brethren.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the area residents who took the time to express their concern regarding this application to divert 6,250,000 gallons of ground water from two wells situated on SW 23-39-18-W4.
AEP received 64 Statements Of Concern (SOC)objecting to this massive diversion of water. Unfortunately, most of the concerns have been rejected because “Your legal land description indicates that you are outside the area of environmental impact associated with this proposed project.
“On this basis, you will not be considered as directly affected, and your submission will not be considered a statement of concern.”
Once again AEP is missing the big picture. Like last time, distance is the sole determining factor in accepting or rejecting any statements of concern.
AEP considers a maximum of 1.6 km from the wells, whereas the Water Act states 1.6 km is the minimum.
Plus, several residents whose SOCs were rejected are within 1.6 km. Obviously, the approvals manager is not looking at a map. Maybe they need a new dart board.
Most of us have experienced temporary water shortages at one time or another. Imagine, however, daily living with a water source which seriously lacks quantity and quality.
Imagine choosing between washing a load of laundry or taking a shower and hauling bottles of drinking and cooking water from another source.
As a rural user, you would also have to consider agricultural demands on your water supply.
The Upper Horseshoe Canyon Formation where this project this located is traditionally water deprived.
Quantity and quality vary within a short distance. Most county area residents know this. To allow any portion of this project to proceed should be considered detrimental to any ground water situated in this formation.
The east-central area of Alberta has long been associated with poor quality and quantity of water, and typical well production is only 1 – 3 gallons per minute.
The Shirley McClellan Regional Water Commission (SMRWC) has alleviated the water concerns in east-central Alberta. The benefits of having access to the SMRWC greatly outweigh the costs of buying water from it.
There are seven confined feeding operations east of Stettler, and drawing their water from the Upper Horseshoe Canyon Formation. The information we have so far has shown that it is in the tens of millions of gallons of water are being extracted from the groundwater supply.
The colony presently has access to 31.5 million gpy, including 4.2 million gpy plus from the SMRWC. With available data, one can estimate the colony’s water requirements to be 15.6 million gpy.
This clearly shows they have access to about twice as much water as they need, before the current 4.1 million gpy request.
The County of Stettler informed the colony that the SMRWC has more than enough water to accommodate the colony’s needs, but the colony wishes to leave the SMRWC because they don’t want to pay SMRWC for water.
This doesn’t make sense since it would cost the colony more to access and treat the groundwater from the two wells than it would to purchase water from the SMRWC.
AEP needs to stop wasting time, and ask themselves, “What is the real reason the colony wants to deplete the aquifer and leave their neighbours dried out?”
There is a very real probability that diverting water from these wells will drain the aquifer and leave neighbouring users with nowhere to turn for water, while the colony can reapply for water from the SMRWC; a resource the rest of us don’t have access to.
According to the Stettler County, it would cost upwards of $204,500 to gain access to the public line. Who pays for this unnecessary cost? Certainly, Lone Pine Colony should foot the bill.
It states in the Water Act they would be responsible to insure a water supply. AEP would be considered liable as would the consultant hired by the Colony to push this project through.
What is the colony’s solution to this issue? “Sell us your land, and you won’t have to worry about it.” And this is a direct quote from more than one landowner.
I guess we could sell to the Hutterites, pack up and leave OR none of this has to happen if Lone Pine withdraws their application.
This would be the fair, respectful and responsible solution to insure the water which has been here for a millennium is available to be enjoyed by subsequent generations.
I would also like to thank Larry Clarke and the County of Stettler for their on-going support in this matter, as well as MLA Rick Strankman for making this issue a priority for his constituency.
If you would like to contact Laura Partridge (403-340-7113) at AEP with questions and concerns regarding these applications, please quote File No. 00329424.
Brett Penosky
Stettler, Ab.

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