Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Society has been seeking assurances that the lake will be protected from runoff during floods. Photo contributed

Lacombe Lake residents feel contamination concerns have been heard

Lacombe Lake society worried lake could be tainted by agricultural runoff and Blackfalds stormwater

Lobbying efforts to ensure Lacombe Lake is protected from contamination appear to be bearing fruit, says a member of a local residents group.

Cliff Soper said the Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Society has been encouraged by responses to its concerns from Lacombe County and Stantec engineering consultants, who are working on a stormwater management plan for Blackfalds that incorporates the lake into the design.

Society members have been lobbying to ensure that water from Whelp Brook (or Whelp Creek, as many locals call it), susceptible to agricultural runoff, is not diverted into Lacombe Lake.

Lacombe County council recently voted to maintain its diversion licence, which allows the municipality to divert Whelp Brook water into the lake if necessary.

However, the county says it does not plan to do that, and as well, will monitor the brook downstream for flooding.

“I think (Lacombe County) definitely will not divert water from Whelp Creek into Lacombe Lake,” said Soper, who has been among society members who have met a number of times with Lacombe County to discuss options.

Soper said the county has agreed to work with stakeholders to establish an optimal lake level to preserve the health of the lake.

Lake-area residents have also voiced concerns that a major stormwater project Blackfalds is pursuing, to allow development in the northwest part of town, has the potential to allow runoff to reach Lacombe Lake in flood conditions.

Blackfalds officials and Stantec engineers have assured residents that stormwater runoff will exceed Alberta Environment water quality standards even before it passes through a series of settling ponds, where it will be further cleaned.

A fail-safe has also been designed to divert water away from Lacombe Lake when flows are very high.

Soper said society members have been pleased with how receptive Stantec has been to concerns.

“I’m fairly confident we won’t get any soapy water going from Blackfalds into the lake,” he said.

“We were proposing that they have another site, where if there is a major flood, they could divert that water into a dry wetland kind of thing to at least slow it down and make sure it got filtered out and everything else.

“We’re waiting for a decision from the department of environment.

“Right now, things are in the works that will be acceptable to our members at least.”

Soper said concerns about major storm events remain, but progress has been made on reaching a compromise that works for all.

“They’ve certainly been listening.”

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