The Town of Rocky Mountain House must close its sewage lagoon to out-of-town users on Friday to ensure environmental regulations are met.
It’s a move that could substantially drive up the cost of sewage disposal for resort operators and property owners in Clearwater County because waste will have to be trucked to other sites such as Nordegg, Drayton Valley or Red Deer.
Rocky Mayor Fred Nash said the town was forced to make the move because Alberta Environment is concerned that the maximum amount of carbon matter in water discharged to the river may be exceeded during winter months if nothing is done now to reduce the amount of sewage going into the lagoon.
Nash said town staff are looking at ways to accommodate outsider users by boosting capacity or altering treatment methods with additional chemicals or equipment.
Also, there may be ways for out-of-town users to reduce their waste production by re-using and reducing grey water.
“We’re looking at all possibilities,” said Nash. “Everything’s on the table as far as I’m concerned.”
Whatever decision is made must be in the best interests of the town and in keeping with proper environmental stewardship, he added.
Rocky’s sewage lagoon has enough capacity to handle waste for about 9,500 people.
The town’s population is about 7,000, however, the municipality has also allowed surrounding property owners and resorts to truck their sewage to the site. In the summer, there can be an additional 3,000 to 4,000 people living in the area, he said.
Nash said town officials will be speaking to their counterparts in Clearwater County and he is confident some solution can be found.
There may be some ways of sharing costs among the municipalities and the province to go ahead with a new lagoon.
“My position, or the town’s position, is we’re here to do whatever it takes to find an equitable solution for all people concerned.”
Clearwater County manager Ron Leaf said the issue will be raised at the next council meeting today.
It is hoped a joint meeting between the two municipal councils can be arranged for early December to look at what options are available.
A study was done previously on the impacts of hauling sewage to the town’s lagoons from the county and there were some capital upgrades proposed. But how those costs would be shared and when the money would be needed has not been determined.
In the county, there are sewage treatment sites in Nordegg, Leslieville, Caroline and Condor. The county is studying the best way to use those lagoons.