Bashaw council says still not enough info for water well decision

·3 min read

Bashaw town council decided it wants more information before deciding on a business request to drill their own water well in municipal limits. The debate occurred at the May 20 regular meeting of council.

A few weeks ago councillors heard a request from PolyAg Recycling to drill their own water well inside Bashaw, which has a bylaw prohibiting that.

PolyAg stated the municipal water it’s using now is too expensive and leaves a build-up on its equipment. It was also noted the company is considering building a second facility, and noted Bashaw has granted a similar request in the past to a different business.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller was instructed at a previous council meeting to meet with Alberta Environment to discuss PolyAg’s request, and Fuller stated a virtual meeting was held May 20 which included some councillors too.

According to the information presented at the council meeting, Alberta Environment didn’t outright state the request can’t be granted; however, the provincial government stated the town should investigate the maximum parts per million (PPM) of hydrocarbons within the wastewater code of practice.

Readers should note that at previous council meetings it was revealed the site PolyAg has identified for its water well has contamination on it.

Council previously heard that PolyAg wants to continue using the town wastewater system, and there was some debate over the risk posed by a proposed water well allowing hydrocarbons into the town lagoon.

Fuller stated she had been in contact with the town’s general engineer Jared Payot of Tagish Engineering, and he, in turn, forwarded Fuller’s request to Ian Wood of Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, who stated in an email, “I think the quick answer is ‘no’ PPM as there would be limited treatment for them in the lagoon and the hydrocarbons might just pass through the lagoon into the receiving waters, if it is an annual release lagoon. If it is an evaportive lagoon, they may never leave.” Wood’s further advice was that the town should have a bylaw in place stating users were prohibited from “dumping” hydrocarbons into the wastewater system.

Fuller stated the town was also contacted by two “local area business representatives” who stated that they felt businesses should filter their own water, that allowing the well would set a precedent and local businesses should support the community by using the town water system.

Coun. Rosella Peterman stated it appears the town could be facing a lot of risks from this request and she didn’t feel comfortable doing it.

Fuller stated if PolyAg’s request was granted some measures would likely be needed such as ensuring no contamination enters their well and monitoring of the wastewater system for contamination, if any.

Coun. Rob McDonald stated he still had unanswered questions and was concerned turning down PolyAg’s request would discourage them from remaining in Bashaw.

McDonald said he felt it was a shame that potable water was being used for industrial uses, but that a filtering system for the town water may end up being the best solution to this problem.

Councillors decided to instruct Fuller to develop a list of tests required on the wastewater system and lagoon that PolyAg would have to conduct and then discuss that list with the company.

They also instructed Fuller to develop a wastewater rate that would be charged to PolyAg if the water well request was approved.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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