Cleaning up a former Lacombe sewage lagoon site, sufficient enough to create a park, would cost more than $30 million, says an engineering analysis.
The sewage lagoons on more than 100 acres on the east side of Lacombe are no longer needed, since the city hooked up a regional sewer line that connects to Red Deer’s treatment plant.
Consultants were hired to look at potential uses for the site and their costs. Reclaiming the lagoons and making them suitable for development carried the heftiest price tags.
Restoring the site to the point where it could be used for industrial land would cost around $21 million.
Jordan Thompson, the city’s director of operations and planning, said selling the reclaimed land for industrial use would provide the best return, but it would take many years before the city recouped the cost.
The cost of reclaiming it for municipal use was over $31 million.
“Those costs are extremely high and it would be difficult for the city to participate in that kind of development at this time,” Thompson.
Another option is to use the site for a solar power farm. However, the economics of those sorts of developments are complex and would require further study, council heard.
The cheapest option that meets Alberta Environment and Parks requirements is removing the sludge at a cost of $1.8 million. That option would also allow the site to be used as a possible snow storage area.
Council is not required to pick an option for the site. Provincial regulations require only that a reclamation plan be prepared at this point.
It is not yet clear from Alberta Environment whether the sludge must be removed from all cells at one time, or if they could be cleaned over time, so the cost could be spread over years.
“It certainly is a big hit,” said Coun. Don Gullekson, adding “if we could do just one cell, it would be much better for us.”
Council voted to direct administration to come back with a list of options, including pursuing long-term revenue-generating use with an interested industry party.
The property would be sold as is, excluding the portion for the snow dump.