Kneehill County to conduct study on possible Three Hills East water system

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

Kneehill County councillors agreed they need more information to make a decision on a possible new water system for the area commonly called Three Hills East. 

The decision to undertake a feasibility study was made at the Aug. 17 regular council meeting.

County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen gave councillors an update on their decision from a previous council meeting to look more closely at a new water system for the Three Hills East region, which is said to have issues with water quality.

“At the July 20, 2021, council meeting, through motion 287/21, Council directed administration to explore further into four options that were presented,” stated Haugen in his report.

“Kneehill County has approached (engineering firm) WSP to provide a proposal for preparing a feasibility study to provide water service the Three Hill East area. The proposal will have the consultant delve into a full flow water system and a stand-alone bulk water station.

“This feasibility study will review the serviceability of a reservoir and/or bulk water station from the three identified sources, outline the options and budgetary estimates for the placement of a water distribution system as well will demonstrate a full flow system with supporting reservoir storage along with review of the options and budgetary cost of a stand-alone bulk water system with the required storage.

“The study will also provide conceptual locations for reservoir and/or bulk water station, identify any environmentally sensitive or historical considerations that may have to be considered, and identify any utilities and/or pipeline conflicts.

“A high-level water modelling will be performed to incorporate into the study identifying flows and required storage.

“Most of the study will be a desktop study but the consultant will perform a site reconnaissance of all alignments and proposed storage location. 

This process will identify any anomalies or risks that may not have been previously identified,” added Haugen. 

He stated in his report the feasibility study will cost just over $20,000.

Haugen added that this effort is at a very early stage and the study would provide councillors and the public with more information on what would be needed to develop a new water system. 

Haugen also stated there is room in the operating budget for the study but it would have to be approved by council.

Reeve Jerry Wittstock asked where the water would come from. Haugen stated that’s likely going to be answered in the study.

When asked what the study would include, Haugen stated it wouldn’t be the complete picture but would likely include rough costs, for example how much a reservoir might cost, but other costs, like staffing and fees, would probably be part of later reports if the project proceeded.

Haugen expanded by saying the study would give councillors the ability to look at possible locations and routes but wouldn’t include much in the way of fee models. However, he said the study would be a good starting point.

Coun. Faye McGhee stated she was concerned about spending money when council still hasn’t decided whether they’re doing this project or not. 

Haugen responded that if the project does move ahead without a feasibility study it may be a bit blind and the study would also give taxpayers an idea of what they could expect.

Councillors discussed models for the system and Haugen stated councillors decided at their previous meeting to explore either a full-blown system or a reservoir.

Coun. Wade Christie stated councillors needed the study to make a decision on this project. 

“We have to start someplace and that’s where you start,” said Christie.

Haugen stated it shouldn’t take too long to get the study done. “The timeline for the feasibility study to be completed is estimated to be eight weeks from the acceptance of the proposal,” his report stated. 

“It has been noted that the schedule could be impacted if COVID 19 restrictions/protocols were to be enhanced.”

Councillors unanimously approved proceeding with the feasibility study on a Three Hills East water system.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.