Wastewater line woes

Repairs to the problem-plagued regional sewage line are nearing completion and it is hoped waste will begin flowing from Innisfail next month.

Repairs to the problem-plagued regional sewage line are nearing completion and it is hoped waste will begin flowing from Innisfail next month.

“We thought that we could get it going in November,” said Dave Hoar, Red Deer County’s representative on the South Red Deer Regional Wastewater Commission.

“We ran into some difficulties with some of the product that was used in the pipelining itself.”

When the line was tested under pressure with potable water, problems with elbow joints and gaskets between pipe sections led to leaking.

The components are being replaced under warranty by contractors and will not boost costs.

“What it cost us was time,” he said.

A revamped schedule would see the line tested with water again before some sewage starts flowing around mid-December. The entire line from Olds to Red Deer is expected to be in full operation in 2015.

The regional sewer line has provided its share of headaches for Red Deer County and its councillors.

Area landowners have complained about a lack of communication about what work is being done next to their property.

In some cases, farmers only found out the line was being tested when they found ditches filling with water from breaks during testing.

There were also complaints about road closures and access to farm fields being cut off when the pipeline was buried.

Hoar said he’s asked the commission to do more to notify the community what is happening.

“We can only hope that we’re able to meet the expectations of the public and keep them informed as to what’s going on in their community.”

Coun. Penny Archibald said no one will be happier to see the project completed than her, adding that most of the line breaks happened in her division.

Communication efforts are improving but more can be done, she added.

Costs on the project have also climbed significantly.

Pegged as a $107-million project in 2007, the bill is now expected to come in around $135 million.

“I think a lot of that has had to do with inflation,” said Hoar. “But also it’s been a situation where we’re putting together a very good operation.

“Hopefully, we can look back at it and say we put a first-class system in place.”

The province has agreed to cover 90 per cent of the project’s cost with municipalities paying the rest.

Another recent hiccup occurred when the Town of Innisfail rejected the commission’s business plan.

Hoar said the town took issue with sewage rates because it will need to continue operating its existing system until the regional sewage line is in full operation in about two years.

The commission is considering Innisfail’s request for an interim rate.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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