City to study pollutants entering Red Deer River with fine money

The City of Red Deer will conduct its first in-depth study on pollutants entering the river after it received $100,000 from an environmental fine imposed on a Red Deer company.

Canoeists from the Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute in Camrose set out on the Red Deer River from the Tail Creek Park Campground at Content Bridge Wednesday.

The City of Red Deer will conduct its first in-depth study on pollutants entering the river after it received $100,000 from an environmental fine imposed on a Red Deer company.

Wastewater superintendent Geoff Stewardson said the city recently tendered a project on monitoring what effluent is going into the Red Deer River.

The successful consultant, yet to be announced, will begin work immediately.

A report is expected within a year, a requirement that is part of a creative sentence program recently introduced in Alberta.

On April 18, Red Deer grain processor Permolex was fined $150,000 in provincial court after releasing wastewater into the city’s storm sewer system in 2007. It also failed to install air pollution control equipment required under its operating permit.

The city has received its $100,000. The remaining $50,000 was paid to the province’s justice system.

“We originally were going to fund the study through the city,” said Stewardson on Wednesday. “I believe we’re the first community to receive monies like this (in the province).”

Stewardson said the project involves two pieces.

One is a mandatory requirement under wastewater approvals. This involves assessing the impact of the effluent on the Red Deer River.

The other ties in with the city’s Environmental Master Plan, which calls for a water quality monitoring program.

“We’ll monitor key points along the river within city boundaries,” said Stewardson. “It’s meant to identify any remedial measures, if necessary.”

This piece of the study will also include Piper Creek and Waskasoo Creek, he added.

Stewardson said residents will be interested to know the health of the river.

“Right now, it’s a bit of a black box,” he said. “I know the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance has done a lot of work in the background over the last few years and I think they’ll be looking forward to this project as well.”

Stewardson said some smaller studies were done in 2003-2004 on stormwater.

“But this will be the biggest in-depth study on the Red Deer River that I know about,” said Stewardson. “It will show us the health of the river and what is its ability to take on what we’re giving to it. What can we do to affect our part?”

Stewardson expects a lot of monitoring and sampling in the first year, and then core sampling in following years to continue monitoring.

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