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Sylvan Lake searches for more water

The Town of Sylvan Lake is on the search for future drinking water.

Staff are reviewing pumping results and licensing statistics, while forecasting the impact of new developments on water supply to get a picture of how much water is left.

An aquifer report completed last year suggested the existing water supply, which comes from wells, will serve a population of 18,000.

The town’s population is about 13,000 and based on its fast growth rate, the town could hit 18,000 by 2020, it has been estimated.

If all lands within the municipality’s boundaries were developed, the population would rise to about 30,000.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson said Alberta Environment won’t allow drawing water from the lake so other sources must be found. The Red Deer River, and even North Saskatchewan, are options.

The most likely source will be from wells deeper than the seven shallow wells the town now uses. However, testing is not complete to determine the quantity and quality of that water.

Right now, while the issue of how much water is available remains cloudy, the need for alternative sources is crystal clear.

“What we ... have is a finite amount of water, and Sylvan Lake is continuing to grow and so is the area around us,” said Samson.

Steps have been taken to ensure water supplies are not over-allocated. Last year, the town confirmed it won’t allow new developments outside its borders to hook up to its water and sewage systems until more capacity is added.

Proposals to boost supplies will eventually be taken to the Sylvan Lake Regional Water Commission and then to Alberta Environment, which would have to approve any new wells or tapping other water sources.

Ideally, provincial funding for a regional water line would be provided, a likely tough sell in the current economic climate.

Developing a business case for more water is expected to take many months and will involve other municipal partners, including summer villages and surrounding counties.

“We have a lot of groundwork to do first,” said the mayor, who expects it will take about six months before the next report is complete.



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