Regional water study keeps on flowing

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A study to provide potable water to residents in the Triangle, Guy and Sunset House areas west of HIgh Prairie continues to progress.

Big Lakes County council and other interested citizens were updated by engineering consultants at council’s regular meeting Nov. 22.

“We’re really in the preliminary phase,” says project manager Delon Young, of McIntosh Perry Consulting Engineers office in Peace River.

“We are in the information-gathering stage.”

A regional grant of $200,000 was awarded March 21 from the provincial government for Big Lakes, the M.D. of Smoky River and the M.D. of Greenview to conduct a water study.

Through the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) program, the government approved the grant for the Inter-municipal Collaboration component of the Triangle and Highway 747 Collaboration Potable Water Study project with Smoky River the lead municipality.

Residents in the Triangle, Guy and South Sunset areas have been demanding potable water for many years.

The update on the study was requested by Len Parke, vice-president of the Pioneer Threshermans Association that owns and operates Triangle Hall and museum grounds.

“I just hope the project will provide a project viable to the residents in the region,” Parke says.

Young says the engineers and municipalities are searching for the best and most cost-effective way to service property owners.

“Our plan is to explore options where water points will be, then we can narrow it down to three alignment options,” Young says.

“We’re hoping to do a comprehensive report.”

The study is a major project, says Kevin Cymbaluk, director of operations for Big Lakes.

“It is a big regional effort,” says Cymbaluk, who has served in the public works role for all three municipalities at various times in his career.

He notes government grants are available for water projects.

Joussard Councillor Richard Mifflin says it’s important to get more people committed to connect to the service.

“The goal for a regional approach is to get funding,” Mifflin says.

Reeve Tyler Airth agrees.

“Money is going to be an issue,” Airth says.

“But if we get more people connected, it will be more feasible.”

He notes that reports on previous water studies in the Triangle area will be part of the new study, which is welcome by the consultant.

“The groundwork is already done for Triangle,” Young says.

Other reports from the study area are also in the works.

“We’re waiting for a report from the Smoky River Water Commission,” Young says.

Initial steps in the study include a functional planning and scope study to determine the feasibility of the possible expansion in the water systems in the area, Cymbaluk said when the study was introduced.

Consideration will also be given to water supply, distribution, storage, potential rechlorination, emergency service requirements, truck fill needs and pressure levels.

Besides the three partner municipalities, other stakeholders in the study include residents in the study area, the Town of High Prairie, the Town of McLennan, the Town of Falher, the Smoky River Water Co-op, Birch Hills County, ATCO Electric and Gas, Aquatera Utilities and various pipeline companies and co-ops.

McIntosh Perry has set timelines to evaluate regional service delivery options by March 1, 2024.

Next, the consultant is committed to finalizing and reporting recommendations to councils by Oct. 1, 2024.

The timeline also states the consultant wants to have agreements and a final report completed by March 1, 2025.

Consultants will continue to meet with councils individually and together as the study continues.

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