Town of Sylvan Lake has taken another step towards ensuring a long-term water supply.
On Tuesday, the town’s request to buy a two-acre piece of land just east of Jarvis Bay for a water reservoir was approved by Red Deer County.
The project is a significant undertaking for the town. Project budget is $6.5 million for a reservoir and pump station. Construction on the 8,500-cubic-metre is expected to begin this year for completion in 2019.
Sylvan Lake has long known its future drinking water supply was inadequate for a community growing as fast as it is.
As early as 2012 an aquifer report suggested the existing water supply, which comes from wells, will serve a population of 18,000.
Between 2011 and 2016 Sylvan Lake’s population grew 19.9 per cent — from 12,362 to 14,816 — according to the last two federal censuses.
Many people in Sylvan Lake were unaware that their drinking water had been supplied by seven shallow wells and not the picturesque lake and namesake nearby. Under provincial regulations, the town is not allowed to tap the lake for its drinking water.
The solution was more wells, and the town received provincial approval for a new water licence in February last year.
The decision was appealed by an area resident but after mediation the appeal was withdrawn in June 2017.
Under the approval, Sylvan Lake can draw 73,594 cubic metres of fresh water annually.
The site of the water reservoir is an area that is within the urban expansion and annexation area of the town, meaning eventually the town will expand that way.
A large residential development, Sanbar Estates, is planned for the surrounding quarter section.
Red Deer County approved the area structure plan for Sanbar Estates in 2013. It is expected to be built in four phases and include 205 residential lots and three commercial sites.
It will be located just southeast of Jarvis Bay and will be built on 124 acres by a group of area developers through a numbered company.
The residential area will be developed around a central park with a pair of ponds.