Wrong Place, Wrong TIme, Wrong Design.
PLWA Wants Answers
Friday, April 13, 2012
Dansol International Inc. has made initial application to Leduc County for the approval of a Local Area Structure Plan (LASP) to create Watermere Resort. The proposed 300 acre site will include 1,149 dwellings, commercial buildings, hotel and spa. It is located on the Northwest end of Pigeon Lake on the west side of Highway 771 across from Zeiner Park and to the North of Tide Creek.
Ryan Devlin, volunteer Director and Communication Committee member of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA) spoke on behalf of PLWA. The group includes full and part-time watershed residents who are concerned about the health of the lake.
“We are not anti-development,” assures Devlin. “We are for smart, sustainable development that holds the environment in its highest priority. The lake is stressed and we have a good understanding as to why. Now we need to take action.”
Devlin admits much of the detailed information about the development’s impact on the lake is not available or required at the time of subdivision approval. Most questions the PLWA and residents have have not been answered by developers as they make their initial LASP application to Leduc County.
One question is regarding the possibility that the development land contains peat, which is defined by Alberta Environment and Water as a wetland. Devlin says the proponent has done some geotechnical work (and, he believes, a biophysical assessment) which has indicated the land contains some peat.
Peatland is an important biofilter for mechanical entraption. It helps reduce pollutants entering into vital spawning areas and provides habitat for a variety of life.
Of equal concern is the potential transformation of the peatland into storm water catchments or “lakes”. It can be assumed that these peatlands currently provide areas of groundwater recharge. By transforming the natural areas into man-made “lakes” for containment of storm water, these recharge areas may no longer contribute to Pigeon Lake’s water balance.
According to Devlin, PLWA has been told in a meeting with Dansol that documentation regarding water balance existed; however they have not seen it to date.
“When we develop these integrated water management plans, there has to be a balance of water coming in and going out of a development.”
High water table
Devlin explains when we construct a lot of buildings with pilings, foundations, basements and driveways, we significantly change how the water flows towards the lake—both on the surface and underground. Where is the rainfall going to go? Where is it going to collect? How will it be conveyed to the lake?
“You have to make sure the amount of water that goes into the ground prior to development is the same after development so we can recharge our ground water and ensure pollutants are properly removed prior to entering the lake. We would love to see more information on this.”
The stress of increased usage
How will people access the lake? What will providing access for resort residents do to the shorelines which are already stressed?
Everyone wants the nice white beaches with no weeds (aquatic or riparian vegetation), but they are very important to the ecosystem—to the health of the lake and the riparian areas. Riparian areas are immediately adjacent to the bank or shoreline and they are home to insects and small aquatic invertebrates. Fish feed and spawn there.
Tide Creek especially is a very sensitive area and is a fish bearing stream. PLWA is concerned about the potential impact on these sensitive areas.
Where will the water come from?
One of the questions is from where are they going to get the water for the catchment lakes? Devlin speculates it may come from a variety of sources with precipitation as a primary source; there is also a potential for tapping into ground water.
But what will happen during years of drought, when there isn’t the precipitation required to supply the amount of potable water needed? No information has been provided about the availability of water in the area. Are they going to augment this potable water with highly treated wastewater? This must be addressed.
There is also a concern about using the ponds for collecting the stormwater runoff.
“AEW will most likely not approve a facility as they are proposing unless there is a back-up plan. To our knowledge, what’s being proposed has not been approved in Alberta because the legislation does not allow it.”
Essentially, Devlin would agree with Dansol’s claim that the wastewater coming out of their treatment facility is good enough to drink—there is technology that can do that.
However, the technical piece is not where the challenge is; it is in the regulatory piece which does not currently allow that.
Another PLWA concern is when the potable water source is located so close to the wastewater, what does the water balance look like? What are the mitigation measures for non-compliance of water treatment quality? Where is the waste from this system going to go? The setback distances of the water and wastewater treatment facilities have not been addressed and may change the layout and design of the system.
Wastewater Treatment Concerns
“Dr. Bruce Jank, Dansol Consultant and CEO of Canadian Clean Water Technologies, has proposed a waste water treatment plant process that, the way it was described to us, has not been constructed in its entirety anywhere in North America. What he describes is that the pieces of the wastewater treatment plant have been in operation throughout North America—and I would agree with that—but as a whole treatment system, it hasn’t.”
“So we would like to see a little more detail because we would like to know where is the treated wastewater going to go? Is it all going to go into the potable water system? Is it going to go back into the ground, as they suggest? And if so, where is the scientific support to the claim that that land can infiltrate that volume of water and not have any deleterious effects on the surrounding environment?”
Wastewater Collection System-
Centralized or decentralized?
PLWA would like to propose if we’re going to develop any land, consideration should be given to connecting to the centralized regional system that would convey the sewage long distances to the Mulhurst treatment facility.
“I think we can get a lot of support from the summer villages, too,” says Devlin confidently. “The goal of our Pigeon Lake collective is to regionalize the wastewater collection system because of the density of development.”
PLWA understands the potential benefits of the decentralized model, however, for this project, the densities are too high and the environmental conditions are not ideal. This leads to risk.
The Dansol group, on the other hand, suggests that decentralization is the way to go—collecting, treating, and disposing of the wastewater onsite for a community. Devlin thinks Dansol needs to justify why decentralization is a better system. PLWA would support Dansol connecting to the regional system immediately and that to be their only plan.
Ownership management of the infrastructure:
Who is ultimately responsible for owning and operating the development’s infrastructure? The developer? A bare land condo association? A homeowners’ association? Leduc County? The first three could own and operate the system facility themselves or they could contract out the facility operations (and possibly ownership) to a third party—such as a utility company.
“But here’s the catch, notes Devlin. “Sometimes associations go bankrupt. Sometimes utility companies—if they can’t make money—will walk away. So who’s going to pick up the pieces? You can’t just have a residential community and nobody providing them with potable water and wastewater services.
This could leave Leduc County on the hook. It has happened before. Alberta Environment will require a municipality to step in the case of emergency to operate the facility. Leduc County is now put in the position where they have to be prepared for that possibility. The question PLWA has for Leduc County is: are you prepared to engage this facility as a potential owner-operator?
“If Leduc County Council believes Pigeon Lake is a truly environmentally sensitive area, we would like additional environmental work to be done to prove or disprove a claim that this is not going to be deleterious to the environment.”
The PLWA hopes the County will recognize the need for this additional information prior to subdivision approval and that under the Municipal Government Act, they have the power to do so.
In their submission to Leduc County, PLWA states, “the lake is at a tipping point and action must be taken to protect the lake and the natural environment. It is critical that any development in the watershed be done in a sustainable environmentally responsible way, to mitigate what has occurred and to enhance the future health of the lake and its watershed."
“The theme from the PLWA," states Devlin, "along with our submissions…is that this is the wrong place, wrong design, and wrong time.”
- A Polish Christmas Members of the Edmonton based Mazur Group provided entertainment for the Polish Christmas fundraiser event held at the Warburg Cultural Centre. “We (the Warburg Cultural Society [WCS]) were looking for a different type of ...
- In Case of Emergency The team brings out the big tools and gets to work removing the roof in order to get the "victim" out of the car. Something that is not a big secret around Leduc and County is that Clarence Shields, owner of Blackjacks ...
- Post Secondary In Leduc? Along with the many new amenities proposed in the western expansion of Leduc is the possibility of having Leduc's first post secondary institution in the city. Norquest College is in discussions with St. Thomas Aquinas ...
- Better Information Requested by New Wetaskiwin Council At the end of the third meeting of the newly elected Wetaskiwin City Council, on November 25th, I jokingly stated, “With this many questions being asked, (of Administration) I will have to bring my power cord for my laptop ...
- Open Farm Days Brenda Hanson, Tourism Development Officer, with Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. Farms open to urban visitors In the past, most people knew how their food arrived at their table by direct experience with farming. ...
- Humble Student Wins Lauren Day of New Humble School. A grade 5 student from Leduc County has received an iPad mini for winning the Name the School contest put on by the Black Gold Regional School (BGRS) Board. The BGRS board has a procedure ...
- 39/20 Alliance & Bill 28 Bill 28, introduced by Alberta Municipal Affairs, formally legislates the Capital Region Board (CRB) and enables the creation of other growth management boards. There have been concerns regarding an appropriate appeal ...
- A CLASS Act Comedian Susan Jones (on left) kept everyone, including emcee Jenn Dalen from The One FM, in stitches all night long. The County of Leduc Animal Shelter Society celebrated their first anniversary by holding their first ...
- Moose Support LTC Family Room The Wetaskiwin Loyal Order of the Moose #1559 donated $5,000.00 to the Wetaskiwin Health Foundation to assist in development of a Family Room for Long Term Care. The Family Room will make it much easier and more pleasant ...
- Sign of Hope at BP The Knights of Columbus presented a cheque for $200 to the Sign of Hope campaign. Pictured making the presentation are Danny Gavan, the Financial Secretary for the Knights of Columbus; Father Nilo Macapinlac, the priest ...
- LNEDA's New Focus The Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Association recently presented their new Strategic Plan to Leduc City Council which emphasized the changes that are underway in the organization. In the last four months since hiring ...
- Quilter’s Christmas Gift Front left to Right: Branin Thompson,Occupational Therapy Supervisor at the Wetaskiwin Hospital and Care Centre and Board Member, Joyce Blackwwell Back: Eileen Elligott, Joyce Berger, Betty Ohman and Amy Dreichel Health Foundation ...
- Giving Santa a Hand Since 1983 Santa has been able to rely on a very large group of helpers right here in Leduc and area to ensure that each child has a toy and a smile every Christmas. The Santa's Helpers Auction is celebrating its 30th ...
- Six Generations Another milestone in the life of Mary Gruninger! On December 4 of this year, Mary will turn 101-years-young. Her love of family now shines through six generations to carry on her legacies. Mary is truly an amazing and loving ...
- Well Kept Secret Director of Business Development and Planning for C-FER Technologies, Brian Wagg was the guest speaker at the Leduc/Nisku EDA's November breakfast. A roomful of people braved the snowy November weather to get a great ...
- The Growth of Leduc One can never predict the growth of a community. The early settlers of Edmonton would most likely be amazed to see how their small trading post has grown to become a large metropolitan center and the capital of a province ...
- Bear Hills Trading Post Editor’s note: This picture is not the Bear Hills Trading Post but merely a representation of an early trading post of the era. From the 1600s to the 1800s trading posts were built and spread west searching for beaver ...
- Mulhurst Bay Quilting Club Guest Claire Carefoot (left) receiving flowers from another quilter- Darlene Kobeluck. The Mulhurst Quilting club ladies have done it again!!!! They hosted another very successful Ladies Day on Thursday October 17th. ...
- A Millet MOvember While Movember and its hairlarious facial fuzz may be winding down, the men’s health issues that inspire this fundraising event remain year round. This light hearted approach is used to bring attention to prostate ...
- Get Involved... Be the Change On October 23, 2013, 23 Griffiths-Scott Middle School students and 2 teachers boarded a bus in the early morning hours to join 16,000 other students from around the province to attend Alberta’s second We Day at the ...