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Monday, March 27, 2017

Beaver Mines Water and Wastewater Project suggestions heard by MD Council


Chris Davis - At their February 28 meeting MD council heard from Cornell Van Ryk, a Beaver Mines are resident, who appeared as a delegation to represent "concerned neighbours" and to offer suggestions regarding the Beaver Mines Water and Wastewater Project. Van Ryk sent two different letters to council about these issues, which they received February 22.


The first letter reads, in full:

"I have been asked by a group of concerned neighbors to represent them and ensure that our issues are dealt with in respect to the sewage lagoon being proposed at the confluence of Mill Creek and the Castle River. At the current time, this group consists of 9 households but we are sure more will come on board as word of this initiative spreads. The clear objective of this group is to do whatever it takes to prevent a sewage lagoon being installed at this location. The solution to the problem of a dozen residences getting sewage into their drinking water, is not to risk putting sewage into the drinking water of hundreds.

On the advice of Councillor Marchuk, I have met with (MD Director of Operations) Leo Reedyk and an engineer from MPE (typo corrected, MPE Engineering Ltd.) to table our concerns and issues with the project. We had a very good meeting (in my opinion) and Leo has committed to take our input into consideration and feedback any and all changes to the project made as a result. He also committed to further review if we have unresolved issues or more issues come to light.

Note: Council has commissioned MPE Engineering to do the detailed design and tender of the project.

This letter is for information only. At the current time I feel we are being heard and our issues will be dealt with. All we ask of Council, at this time, is to support the resolution process we are currently engaged in and to ensure we are informed whenever the Beaver Mines water/sewer project is discussed at Council so that someone from our group can attend and listen to the discussion."

In person Van Ryk said "Putting that lagoon in that area is facing a lot of resistance".

In regards to his second letter, he said he was speaking for himself. His second letter reads in full:

"While reviewing the details of the Beaver Mines water project, I have come to the opinion that some of the options have been dismissed out of hand. As a taxpayer, I expect that every effort is made to deliver the project objectives at the lowest possible cost regardless of which level of government is funding the project. When I asked the question as to why the taxpayer was expected to fund sewer service to Beaver Mines in addition to potable water, I was told it was due to regulation. Potable water could not be supplied without an approved wastewater system.

My wife was quick to point out that this model (supplied water and privately owned and maintained septic systems) is exactly what is being done in the Town of Pincher Creek sub-division immediately east of their water treatment plant. A phone call to a resident confirmed this situation. I have searched the regulations and found reference to approvals required for such a project but none that prohibit it outright. I am not expert in all the rules and regulations impacting this project nor have I been privy to all the discussion, but feel that the option of supplying water only needs to be re-addressed to ensure it cannot or should not be done before it is eliminated as an option.

Leo Reedyk (MD Director of Operations) has committed to following up on this. I ask for Council's support in this follow-up and also that I be kept informed until this is brought to closure. I have kept all notes relative to my review of this project and would be happy to assist in the development of a communication package if this option is adopted."

In person Van Ryk told council "I personally think this project is off the rails," adding that his own"project management antennaes started to tingle" when considering it. "Overall I ask you to take two steps back.." He said that "15 million taxpayer dollars to provide a water and wastewater solution for Beaver Mines, works out to about 300 thousand per resident", with some not actually hooking up to it, He called it a "road to nowhere project", or alternatively a "pipeline to nowhere".

He recommended the MD consider supplying water to Beaver Mines only and forego the wastewater aspects of the project. "That would have been my call... had I been the project manager."

Van Ryk also said he opposed the employment of MPE Engineering Ltd. as the contractor. "They've got too much skin in the game." He suggested instead that there be an independent parallel review of the project, "and I think you need to do this quickly," he added, referring to the upcoming election this year, with the opinion that the current council should come to some sort of conclusion " before the next council has to deal with it."

According to an MD faq about the water supply aspects of the project, it "includes water treatment plant upgrades, piping to the Hamlet (of Beaver Mines) including a booster pump station along the route, and a reservoir and re-chlorination unit." Construction for the water supply component of the project "is tentatively scheduled for completion in the spring of 2018." According to the same faq, "The wastewater treatment system component of the project includes a force main to the wastewater treatment lagoon system from the Hamlet." The MD is waiting to hear the results of a grant application for the wasetwater component, expected this spring. The MD is currently negotiating somw property easements related to both aspects of the project. From the MD's March 7 update on that issue "Negotiations with landowners is continuing and hopefully we will know later in March if a pipeline route easement has been confirmed."

According to a March 1 letter to council from Alberta Environment and Parks Approvals Manager Kathleen Murphy, P. Eng., "The issue has to do with capacity. If users are connected to a potable water distribution system it is assumed they will use more water than if the re was no distribution system . Therefore there will be an impact on the volume of wastewater generated. Usually a septic system cannot deal effectively with the increase in wastewater generated. There is an opportunity under this section for the Director under the Act to authorize an exemption to the above requirement. However this is not something that we usually consider. It would be up to the Applicant to prove that there would be no resulting adverse effect. Further, given that we are aware the cu rrent private septic systems in Beaver Mines are failing, with possible effects on the groundwater, an exemption is not something we would likely entertain. We are not aware of the Pincher Creek example you referenced but we will definitely look into it."

At their March 14 meeting council decided to send Mr. Van Ryk a copy of the above Alberta Enviromnent and Parks letter, explaining that provincial funding was only available for a project that includes wastewater removal.
Van Ryk is scheduled to appear as a delegation before council at their regular meeting on March 28 to again speak to the issue.

Update: Below is the letter Van Ryk sent to the MD in relation to his request to appear again as a delegation:

Cornell Van Ryk - 

"I request that Council re-visit their decision to select the Mill Creek lagoon site as the preferred option for the Beaver Mines wastewater project.

The reason for this request is that Council was not presented with all the information necessary to make such a decision. Council based their decision on the recommendation presented in the MPE Study Report but, under scrutiny, the report does not offer sufficient information to support their recommendation. Capital cost was the major (only?) criterion used and even the cost comparison was incomplete. No information was presented concerning risks or resident concerns or operating costs. The mechanical treatment option was dropped but no alternative options for treatment were presented.

Specific issues with the MPE Report:

The risks associated with the Mill Creek lagoon were not discussed.

The risk of raw sewage contamination of the Castle River due to seepage and/or loss of containment and the impact on downstream water users must be considered.

Site selection is the first consideration to prevent/reduce seepage from a wastewater lagoon. It would appear that a gravel bed beside a river at the confluence of 2 streams is not the optimum selection. Extra cost will be required to control and monitor seepage as compared to a more suitable site.

Residents and downstream users were never consulted and therefore their concerns were not heard prior to the decision being made.

The risks associated with potential plugging of the sewer force mains (both Option 1 and 2) were not discussed.

The force mains will have to be pigged. The pipelines will need to be modeled so pigging frequency can be predicted. The consequences of a plugged pipeline or stuck pig need

to be understood. A line blockage under Hwy. 507 or under the Castle River will be difficult to manage.

The "travel" time in these pipelines will lead to significant odour generation and high costs to mitigate.

The option of treating wastewater at Beaver Mines was discarded due to high cost. Only a high cost Mechanical treatment option was considered. For systems of this size, far less expensive treatment alternatives seem to be the norm in the province (and across the country for that matter). These were not introduced.

Small footprint treatment facilities have been developed throughout the province and are suitable for a population equivalent to that predicted here. These are low capital cost (possibly >$3mm cheaper than the current proposals) and produce high quality effluent. They are accepted by residents and Alberta Environment has approved many of these.

There was no comparison of operating costs of the various alternatives.

The costs of pigging and odour control will need to be passed on to the "customer''. This may drive even more to opt out.

Now that the input from the Mill Creek locals has been received and Council has taken the time to review in more detail the MPE report, I suggest a proper evaluation study be undertaken. This study should include (not limited to):

Study 3 alternatives - Wastewater Treatment at Beaver Mines, Lagoon at Mill Creek, and pipeline to the Cowley lagoon. It appears that the option of a lagoon at Beaver Mines has been determined to be not viable.
An updated cost comparison of all 3 alternatives. Include all valid costs as suggested by the Mill Creek area landowners and M.D. Council. Include all differences regarding sewer lines within the Hamlet.

A listing of all risks associated with each alternative and an indication of probability and consequence.

A comparison of operating (including utility) costs of each alternative.

An odour study (including odour generation, affected people, wind direction) for all 3 alternatives.

Finally, Council should consider having the final report reviewed by a 3rd party (another engineering firm with expertise in sewer/water projects) prior to making a final decision. It is important that all factors be considered in the decision. Risks, operating costs and resident concerns are as important as the capital cost when deciding on a project like this."

Related link (MD of Pincher Creek website:
Beaver Mines Water and Wastewater Project

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