Sunday, October 4, 2015

Beaver Mines water project moves forward

Chris Davis

Council for the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 recently authorized the Reeve and Chief Administrative Officer to sign the New Building Canada Fund - Small Communities Fund Conditional Grant Agreement on behalf of the Municipality for Hamlet of Beaver Mines water and sewer servicing, by connecting the Regional Water system treatment plant northwest of Cowley with the Hamlet of Beaver Mines through approximately 20 kilometres of pipeline.

According to the MD's application for funding, "Our existing Municipal Development Plan, Bylaw No. 1062-02, Section 111.H.5 indicates "The boundaries of Beaver Mines shall not be expanded until such time as it is serviced with a municipal water and sewage system." Additionally, Council's Vision within their Integrated Community Sustainability Plan recommends the majority of the MD's population be concentrated in Hamlets."

Construction is projected to start in March of 2016 and be completed in March of 2020.

According to a report by Director of Operations Leo Reedyk, "The total project is estimated to cost $15,000,000 depending on the options chosen and final tendered cost of construction."

"Administration has also applied for funding for the project with the Provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant program and is in the process of applying for funding with the Provincial Water for Life and Alberta Water/Waste Water Partnership grant programs. Grant funding under these programs would reduce the amount of funding for the project that would need to be covered with municipal debentures or special levies."

2015/16 the total provincial and federal funding approved for this project is $187,147.                                   .
Excerpted from the MD's application for funding:

"This project is phase 3 of our Regional Water System with the Village of Cowley as identified in the 2011 regional water study. The regional water system treatment plant was constructed to allow for added capacity to enable the delivery of water to additional hamlets and rural residents within the municipality including Beaver Mines. Recent failures of septic systems within the Hamlet has escalated the need to service the community with water and sewer sooner rather than later. The project includes a small upgrade to the Regional Water System, treated water pipeline to Beaver Mines, water storage and distribution within the community and septic effluent collection and treatment. Septic treatment options include a force main to an existing underutilized lagoon system, a new mechanical plant or a new lagoon system. This will minimize the effect of existing septic systems have on the environment in the headwaters of the Castle River, a goal of the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan."

"The Hamlet of Beaver Mines residents currently receive their water from shallow wells or via trucked services. They deal with their waste water discharge primarily via septic fields and to a lesser extent by trucked pump out. The shallow nature of the aquifer and the pressure from septic systems has resulted in numerous occurrences of failed drinking water tests and or septic discharge to storm water runoff."

"The local Public Health Inspector is on record as indicating 'Due to the risk of this bacteria contaminating residents drinking water, Environmental Public Health has urged residents to test their water on a regular basis and maintain private treatment systems. Despite this, results of water tests show there is persistent contamination from both E. Coli and Total Coliform bacteria (commonly used as an indicator of contamination)'." A letter is on file that Environmental Public Health supports the project.

"The project will result in a cleaner environment within the headwaters of the Castle River on Beaver Mines Creek by eliminating the constant waste water discharge associated with the Hamlet and non functioning septic systems from the shallow aquifer. By treating the wastewater in a properly operating lagoon system prior to discharge, the effect on the environment will be significantly reduced."

"Although the project scope will not necessarily trigger an environmental assessment, one has been scheduled to allow for consideration of the environmentally sensitive areas the project pipelines will transit through. This will enable the environmental impact of the project to be minimized."
"Given the shallow aquifer that residents are currently drawing their water from, and the concern from the Environmental Health Officer, we feel that the need for this infrastructure is urgent.

"Construction of new homes within the region continues to be strong and servicing Beaver Mines would allow additional properties to be developed with a source of treated water and a means of dealing with the waste water.

"The Hamlet of Lundbreck is the only other Hamlet in the Municipal District with a water I waste water distribution and collection system in place. Adding the Hamlet of Beaver Mines to that list would take pressure off Lundbreck as the only option for consideration when moving to the municipality. Lundbreck has very few serviced undeveloped lots remaining.

"The project will contribute to both productivity and economic growth in the Municipality by providing a secure source of treated water to residents. Additionally for residents in the Hamlet of Beaver Mines, a municipal waste waster system to deal with effluent will allow residents to focus their resources on other matters rather than their private systems. The economic growth is expected to happen as the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan has identified additional wild land parks, expanded existing parks and tourism opportunities within the area that the Hamlet of Beaver Mines is the closest community to. Having a water/waste water system in place will offer an improved level of service that will drive economic growth in the short term.

"Aside from productivity and economic benefits the health benefits of access to clean treatedwater is a significant benefit to the community. The removal of waste water from the local aquifer will over time result in the stabilization of the local ecosystem.

"During the construction of the project numerous opportunities for employment or supply and service contracts will be available within the region that will have a significant impact on the local economy during the multi year construction time line.

"Property values in the Hamlet will increase as a result of water and waste water infrastructure resulting in increased assessment, increased tax revenues and probable increase in new construction activity.

"Residents within the region who rely on hauling water will be able to get their water at Beaver Mines rather than commuting to Cowley or Pincher Creek.

"Capacity for Fire Fighting will be significantly improved in the region as a 400m3 reservoiris planned. This is significant as Beaver Mines boarders the forest reserve and their volunteer fire fighters respond to all calls within the forestry. Fire hydrants within the Hamlet will lower fire insurance for residents."

Reedyk explained to council that the funding must be used by 2021. The MD is to pay for the costs up front and will be reimbursed on a quarterly basis. He also explained that Water For Life funding is for pipeline and improvements to treatment facilities, and Alberta Water and Wastewater Partnership funding is for reservoirs and sewage treatment facilities

"Water For Life grant funding will pay for all of the costs associated with the upgrade to the treatment plant, because we are bringing another community online, and they would pay 90% of the pipeline costs. If I'm not mistaken, those components are about a $4.3 million dollar touch, so that in certainly in the high 3-something from a grant prospective."

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