A new Mirror-to-Bashaw regional waterline does more than deliver water, says the chair of the water commission overseeing the project
These kinds of projects pump economic development into communities.
“When people are looking to set up a business in a community, that’s one of the first things they look at is long-term sustainable water, and good, healthy water,” said Brenda Knight, chairperson of the Hwy 12/21 Regional Water Services Commission.
“The biggest thing that people are starting to understand in today’s world is how precious water is,” she said.
Alberta Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Brian Mason also alluded to the importance of the “critical waterline” in a statement.
“It will support economic development, improved services and future growth.”
The commission held an official ground-breaking ceremony in Mirror last week for the fifth leg of what will be an 84-km system connecting Bashaw to the Stettler Water Treatment Plant.
It will cost about $7 million to build the 18-km link from Mirror to Bashaw. The federal government has put up $3.5 million, the provincial government $2.8 million, and the remainder will come from the commission and its members.
Knight said Alix and Mirror are already getting water from the Stettler plant.
“Then there is a gap in the line all the way to Bashaw,” said Knight. Bashaw’s aging plant has also been serving Ferintosh and New Norway.
The new segment means Bashaw won’t have to continue treating water but can rely on the bigger plant in Stettler.
Turning to a regional system means small communities don’t have to treat their own water and undertake the inevitable costly upgrades, said Knight.
“(Smaller plants) will require massive upgrades going forward and the community itself would have to foot that bill.”
It is also hard for small communities to find qualified operators for their water systems.
“You want to ensure they have good, clean, potable water,” she said. “I think Walkerton showed us all what can happen when that falls apart.”
In May, 2000, five people died and 2,500 got sick after E.coli bacteria contaminated the Ontario community’s water supply.