Regional sewer line heading north

Three Central Alberta municipalities are putting together a financing deal to kick-start a regional sewage project.

Three Central Alberta municipalities are putting together a financing deal to kick-start a regional sewage project.

Lacombe city council agreed on Monday to back a little over $1 million of the nearly $3 million cost of undertaking detailed design work and a land acquisition strategy for the sewer line that would run from Red Deer through Blackfalds to Lacombe.

On Tuesday, Blackfalds town council approved a similar a similar deal worth $1.45 million.

There is urgency to get the $40-million project rolling because both Blackfalds and Lacombe’s sewage treatment systems are at the limits of their capacity and the population continues to grow.

Getting the new sewer line “shovel-ready” is seen as a critical step to lining up the necessary support from the province and, possibly, federal government.

“Ultimately, Blackfalds and Lacombe need a solution. We need a long-term solution for wastewater,” said Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol on Wednesday.

“And we need a decision that does the right thing for the Red Deer River as well.”

First proposed nearly a decade ago, the sewer line was envisioned as part of a three-leg system. The first leg, from Olds to Red Deer, is nearing completion. Another leg, connecting Red Deer to Sylvan Lake and summer villages, is on the back burner.

Both Lacombe and Blackfalds announced their intention earlier this year to step up their lobbying efforts to persuade the province to come up with 90 per cent of the funding for the line — the same cost-sharing deal used to build the $132-million Olds-to-Red Deer line.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lacombe County will cover the up-front costs of $2.98 million for design and the land acquisition strategy. That amount will be deducted from its share of the total sewer line costs if the project goes ahead within five years.

If the project stalls, Lacombe city council will pay the county back $1.075 million plus interest — which represents 36 per cent of the project cost and the community’s anticipated usage.

Blackfalds council approved a $1.45-million guarantee representing 45 per cent of the cost.

The five-year term is in place because there is a chance that design work will need to be redone by then if no progress has been made.

Municipalities have formed the North Red Deer River Waste Water Services Commission to oversee the project.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com