Waste water lagoon situation reduced from “critical” to “on alert”

The situation with the Town of Sylvan Lake’s wastewater lagoons has been reduced from a “critical” stage to an “on alert” stage

The situation with the Town of Sylvan Lake’s wastewater lagoons has been reduced from a “critical” stage to an “on alert” stage, according to the Town’s Communications Officer, Joanne Gaudet.

This reduction is attributed to; firstly, to some of the effluent is being hauled to Red Deer; secondly, a slow discharge which was approved by the province last week; and thirdly, and most effectively according to Gaudet, the voluntary reduction in wastewater from the people of Sylvan Lake.

“The most effective resource in the community are the people and their willingness to understand and support the cause,” Gaudet said. “We could have thrown a whole lot of money at something to mitigate the situation but we had a lot of faith that calling for local support would help and it did. We noticed a change in inflow.”

That change in inflow, according to Gaudet has Town administration “not as anxious, but definitely still on alert and monitoring every waking moment.”

Voluntary wastewater restrictions still do remain in affect, however, the most recent 96 hour tests, which test the fish lethality in Cygent Lake and Cygnet Creek were performed onMonday, July 18 and will shed some light either Thursday, July 21 or Friday, July 22 on whether they can be removed and regular water use can be resumed.

“We want to ensure regularly occurring passing tests before we call this complete,” Gaudet added.

The cost of hauling effluent to Red Deer using seven trucks per day over a 12 hour period does come with an estimated cost of $10 per cubic meter, for a total of 1600 cubic meters totalling $16,000, however, this cost is included in the Town’s Emergency Reserve Funds and will not affect ratepayers, according to Gaudet.

According to Gaudet, the long-term solutions for the lagoons is management as well as Town Council lobbying from provincial and federal infrastructure support.

“We know that we are not the only community across Canada that has infrastructure concerns it’s kind of a national crisis,” Gaudet said. “Ultimately we are hopeful because we have theWater for Life Fund through the province.”

This is a fund that the Town applied for back in 2006, which would provide financial support for water related infrastructure. Many municipalities have applied for this fund and according to Gaudet, the most recent provincial government has reinstated funds for the program.

“We are hoping, fingers crossed, that we will have access to that,” she added

As far as the immediate situation, Gaudet feels that the Town has seen the worst of it.

“As long as we are cognizant of water usage we are going to be good,” she said.

She added that it would have been “absolutely devastating” if these waterways were affected by the effluent and that the watershed in the region is part of the Town’s “being, culture and everything we do.”