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Friday, August 7, 2015

Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony plans new dairy barn and improved manure storage and treatment

Toni Lucas

At the regular meeting of the council for the Town of Pincher Creek on July 28, 2015 council accepted as information and discussed a package from the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB)  regarding the Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony's plans to construct  a manure digester and a new dairy barn.


The colony would like to update their current manure storage and treatment facilities from the current lagoon system. They would like to install an anaerobic digester, which is an enclosed system that is supposed to digest the manure and be more efficient. One side effect of this improved process would be a reduction of odor in the surrounding area, including the town of Pincher Creek. The colony is additionally proposing to construct of a new dairy barn.  They will then decommission the existing dairy barn. Council approved the direction the Colony is taking, but concerns were expressed about when council was notified.  Councillor Lorne Jackson said "I would really have liked to have seen notification to the Town earlier in the process." Councillor Tammy Rubbelke added, "This is a done deal."

Mayor Don Anderberg said, "Really, we weren't notified, and we are directly, directly affected." His concern was about when in the process the Town of Pincher Creek was contacted.  "I don't believe AHS notified anybody.  The notification was properly done, but the notification mechanism is kind of... geared to not letting anybody know in a reasonable time frame what's going so they can respond." Anderberg said that the issues the Town of Pincher Creek has had with the current facilities are being addressed with the new plans, including concerns about fresh water and separate tailing ponds.  "They seem to have addressed some of our issues on this one."  He said he was glad the Town of Pincher Creek was notified, even if it was late in the process.  "I'm glad they (NRCB) wrote the letter, and I am glad that Alberta Health wrote their letter, and I think we are seeing some really positive results."

Councillor Mark Barber said "I think they (the Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony) are going way beyond what they probably have to."

Councillor Doug Thornton said that there currently are five intensive livestock operations around Pincher Creek, limiting expansion.  "If our town required to expand substantially, where would we go?"

Administration indicated a request has been made for a meeting with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to talk with the Minister about the process. Mayor Anderberg said they may take the concerns regarding the notification process to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. "I think we go to the minister first."

A ground steel liquid manure storage tank at the colony has been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Board and the construction on both the manure digester and the new dairy barn should be completed by December 31, 2017.

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