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Lawyers to make final submissions next week in water diversion trial

Lawyers will make their final submissions on Monday in the trial of a local business accused of creating an illegal water diversion that caused a landslide on a neighbouring farm.

Auto Body Services Red Deer Ltd. and its primary shareholder, Harry Veenstra, are co-accused on seven charges laid under provincial environmental and water statutes.

The business owns a parcel of land immediately north of Red Deer, between the Blindman Industrial Park and Red Deer River.

A portion of the land had been leased to another company and was being prepared for construction in the late spring and early summer of 2010.

Crown prosecutor Peter Roginski of Calgary alleges that from July 15-21 Veenstra ordered excess water pumped off of the site and into a ditch along an adjacent road without having a water management plan and without having required proper permits.

Roginski alleges that the water pooled onto a hayfield and then caused an escarpment to fail, partially covering a grain crop on a lower piece of the neighbouring property.

Roginski wrapped up his case on Thursday with testimony from expert witnesses who had been involved with the site.

City of Red Deer engineer Gordon Ludtke, previously employed with EXH Engineering Services, testified that he had helped Veenstra prepare a water management plan in 2006 so he could apply for the necessary approvals from Red Deer County and Alberta Environment.

Water management plans are required “in order to manage the impact of excess water to adjacent land and to minimize the impact of changes to water quality,” said Ludtke.

Edmonton-based hydrogeologist Qunli Dai, who inspected the site after the water diversion was reported, said the escarpment failed because of excess water that had percolated into the soil from a pond that had formed in the hayfield.

Dai said he could not comment on the source of the water in the pond or on how much rain had fallen at the time because that is not his area of expertise.

Defence counsel Sean Moring did not call evidence. He and Roginski are to make their final submissions before Judge Gordon Yake in Red Deer provincial court on Monday.

bkossowan@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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