Lacombe County agrees to foot part of the power bill for Gull Lake pumps

Lacombe County has agreed to foot nearly half the power bill for the pumps used to maintain water levels in Gull Lake in dry years.

Lacombe County has agreed to foot nearly half the power bill for the pumps used to maintain water levels in Gull Lake in dry years.

Council approved a motion on Thursday to sign an agreement that would leave the county with a 45 per cent share of electricity costs for the pumps. Based on the predetermined annual requisition of $100,000, the county’s share will be $45,000 annually.

The county has also agreed to oversee the stabilization project that pumps water from Blindman River into the lake, which is not fed by a river or stream.

Ponoka County will foot 40 per cent of the bill ($40,000) and the Summer Villages of Gull Lake and Parkland Beach will contribute 7.5 per cent each ($7,500).

In 2009, municipalities around the lake were taken by surprise when the provincial government announced it was considering abandoning the lake stabilization project, which had been in place since 1974 and was regularly called on to top up water levels in Gull Lake.

The counties and summer villages joined forces to lobby Alberta Environment to reconsider. The department agreed to cover capital and maintenance costs if the municipalities pick up the power bills, which range from $50,000 to $150,000.

Since the pumps are not needed every year, the plan is to pool the annual requisition if it is not needed and draw upon it in dry years.

Lacombe County commissioner Terry Hager said Alberta Environment has set water level guidelines to determine when the pumping will be allowed. The flow in the Blindman River is also considered so it is not drained further when water levels are low.

Coun. Dana Kreil questioned why provincial campgrounds are not providing a share of the power costs, considering they benefit from the lake levels being maintained.

Hager said that was brought up in negotiations with the province but went nowhere.

“In fact, I believe this (the entire stabilization project) should be a provincial responsibility,” he said.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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