Blackfalds drainage plan will go back to public

Alberta Environment reviewing public concerns about drainage project

Questions about the environmental impact of a drainage plan for Blackfalds will be answered, assures the town’s mayor.

A plan to map out drainage to allow for new development in northwest Blackfalds has proven controversial and generated a petition urging the town to look at other options.

Many of those opposed do not want to see Lacombe Lake become part of the drainage system for fears it could be contaminated by runoff.

Alberta Environment, which must approve the drainage plan, is now sifting through “statements of concern” about the project.

Mayor Melodie Stol said after the provincial department has determined the issues that should be addressed the statements of concern will go back to the town for a response.

“We have to address them one by one,” she said. “After that, some type of consultation or showing of information has to occur so we can go to the general public and show how we have addressed the statements of concern.”

Stol said the town does not know yet when that will happen.

Lacombe County asked Blackfalds about the possibility of pumping runoff south to Blindman River as an alternative to the proposed plan.

An engineering analysis showed the cost would be about $12.8 million, more than five times the $2.5-million estimate of the original drainage plan.

As well, it would require provincial approval for what is known as an inter-basis water transfer — the movement of water from its normal watershed to another.

That approval could prove difficult to obtain, suggests an engineering assessment from Stantec.

“While we have not received any feedback from Alberta Environment and Parks on this potential option, we suspect that a quick and easy approval for this option cannot be assured,” says the engineering report.

Stol went to county council last week to present the engineering findings and answer questions.

“It was just to let them know there was nothing compelling about our stormwater plan that would justify the expense and probably the pretty big hurdles of getting the inter-basin water transfer,” said Stol.

“I think the best option is to work within the plan we have and try to make it the best plan it can be.”

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