Lacombe City Council taps reserve fund for water well review

Lacombe City Council approved funding Monday night for a review that will examine if abandoned municipal water wells have caused groundwater levels to rise.

Lacombe City Council approved funding Monday night for a review that will examine if abandoned municipal water wells have caused groundwater levels to rise.

The city began decommissioning wells back in 2004 as the municipality joined the regional pipeline from Red Deer. Some residents and business owners expressed concerns that this contributed to flooding this summer as water is no longer being extracted from the aquifer.

“It would allow us to definitively say to citizens or businesses that the two are unrelated,” said Matthew Goudy, engineering services manager. “Or if they turn out to be related, I guess we start down the road of investigating what can be done.”

Council approved using $3,240 from the General Stormwater Reserve Fund to pay Stantec to investigate if there is any correlation between the abandoned wells and recent flooding.

The company will compare current water levels with those from before the wells were put into production and those after well use was terminated.

The findings will not be completely conclusive but should provided convincing insight into whether this year’s flooding was solely a result of significant rainfall or if well abandonment was also a factor, Goudy said.

“Although the report won’t be 100 per cent conclusive, it will give us an extremely good idea and we can be definitive when we’re responding to residents as to whether or not this is affecting flooding in the community,” said Norma MacQuarrie, chief administrative officer.

Councillor Grant Creasey opposed spending money for the review, saying a relationship between the decommissioned wells and rising ground water is highly unlikely. Goudy told councillors the wells reach a depth of approximately 120-metres whereas groundwater accounts for only the top five-metres.

“It would be about as intelligent for us to spend money on a survey to see if the rainfall had anything to do with it,” Creasey said. “And that would be very conclusive, to say that yes in fact it did.”

Stantec will complete the review and report its findings to council at a later date.

Lacombe experienced localized flooding following a July storm that hit parts of the city with 50 mm of rain in under an hour.

The city has received funding from the Disaster Recovery Program to help cover losses from the severe downpours on July 11 and 12. Funding is available to homeowners, small businesses, agricultural producers and municipalities.

People affected by this flooding can register for assistance today at Centennial Hall at the Lacombe Memorial Centre at 5214 50th Ave. from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Those unable to attend can go to Lacombe City Hall at 5432 56th Ave. to register starting Wednesday.

Upwards of 40 applications were received on Monday.

Residents are asked to bring: one piece of photo ID, a letter from their insurance company indicating what damage is not covered (can be provided at a registration centre or later to a program evaluator) and a detailed list of all property damage.

People are asked not to bring photos or receipts when applying, but keep them for the evaluator.

Applications must be done in person. Call 1-888-671-1111 if this is not possible.

Other items of interested that were discussed at the regular Lacombe City Council meeting Monday night included:

• The Lacombe Flying Club briefly presented its five-year-business plan to upgrade the facility. Director Dave Scott said the club wants to modernize some components of the non-certified airport, namely the 800-square foot terminal that was built in the 1970s. He expects expanding the terminal to 1,500-square feet as well as making it wheelchair accessible will cost between $150,000 to $225,000. The club received verbal approval for a $56,000 provincial improvement grant so long as it receives matching funding from the city before September 2012. Scott said the upgrades are necessary to accommodate the pilots that use the facility. An average of 10 planes fly in and out of the airport on fair weather weekends and flight training courses are also held at the facility, he added. Council received Scott’s presentation as information. The Lacombe Flying Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012.

• Council approved first reading to a bylaw that will increase its loan to the Lacombe Athletic Park Association from $25,000 to $50,000. The increase will be in effect from 2014-2020. The LAPA requested the additional funding on Aug. 22, explaining that a shortfall of $745,000 is projected in Phase III, which will see the development of the turf and rubber track. Construction on this final phase is expected to start in November and will be completed by June 2012. This bylaw has been advertised in the Lacombe Globe and does not require a public hearing. Petitions concerning this matter must be received by the CAO by Oct. 14.

— copyright Red Deer Advocate