County holds its nose, approves sewer line

Lacombe County has agreed to allow a Sylvan Lake sewage line to be built in road right-of-ways despite the potential for future construction headaches.

Lacombe County has agreed to allow a Sylvan Lake sewage line to be built in road right-of-ways despite the potential for future construction headaches.

The Sylvan Lake Waste Water Commission has been working on building a regional sewer line for years and the latest plan is to construct a sewage receiving station in the county at Aspelund Road and Hwy 20, about six km north of Sylvan Lake.

The much-anticipated project will allow summer villages and acreage developments in Lacombe and Red Deer counties to truck, and eventually pipe, their waste to Sylvan Lake for treatment.

To get the waste there, a 13-km line is proposed and the commission wants it to run through the road allowances next to county roads.

Phil Lodermeier, the county’s director of operations, warned there is a lot of down side to allowing the 15-cm pipeline to be run underneath the ditches. Putting utilities there makes it more difficult to repair and maintain roads. As well, work to the pipelines can damage roads and drainage ditches and create traffic problems while work is underway.

The county typically does not allow developers to use county right-of-ways for utilities so giving the green light to the commission for its project could set an unwelcome precedent.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s a great idea. I think it will create problems in the long term,” Lodermeier told county council on Thursday.

County Reeve Terry Engen said it may not be ideal to allow the right-of-ways to be used, but buying land for the sewage line off area property owners could prove difficult and expensive because land near the lake is considered prime real estate.

There is also some urgency to getting the sewage line project moving, said Engen. The province has committed $3.2 million to the line and there is concern among municipalities in the commission that if the project does not get going soon, the money could get reallocated.

If there are lengthy delays because of ongoing negotiations with local landowners, the project could get killed, he added.

Engen said Red Deer County has agreed to allow its road allowances to be used and it is not unreasonable for a municipality to agree to use land it already owns rather than purchase more property for pipelines.

“I’m concerned about buying something when we actually own something,” he said. “I have a difficult time justifying that.”

Council voted 4-1 to allow road allowances to be used for the sewage line on the understanding the commission will pay to move the pipeline if that is needed to do other public works projects. Knight was opposed. Councillors Rod McDermand and Cliff Soper were absent.

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