Budget updated for Beaver Mines wastewater project

·3 min read

A budget update for the Beaver Mines water and wastewater project, approved by MD of Pincher Creek council on Nov. 9, shows an increase in expenditure for the wastewater treatment facility and the water distribution and collection system, but a lowered cost estimate for the lift station and force main.

In 2020, the cost estimate for the facility was $3,280,000, but expenses have since increased by $327,594.

Troy MacCulloch, chief administrative officer for the MD, attributes the rise in cost to a variety of factors including an appeal and an increase in costs for construction materials.

The appeal, driven by landowners living near the site who object to the facility’s development, was launched against Alberta Environment and Parks, which reviewed and approved the engineering plans for the site.

Additional costs were incurred through the approval process for the site and an increase in commodity price for construction products.

The appeal and environmental approval processes have generated additional legal and engineering costs of about $115,000.

The new facility will use a surface dispersion system, meaning treated sewage will be absorbed into the ground rather than released into Castle River.

“It was developed to be used up north where they couldn’t get into waters because they’re frozen a lot of the time,” says MacCulloch.

Costs for the water distribution and collection system have also increased, from an estimated total of $5,380,000 in 2014 to $6,648,000 in July due to a few community-driven, council-approved construction changes. The size of the water mains, valves and pipes was increased to offer better fire protection and the system design changed to a gravity collection system, meaning gravity would be used to push sewage from individual houses to the force main rather than pumps.

Additional costs were incurred through the removal and replacement of culverts, relocation of utility lines and acquisition of land.

Costs associated with the lift station and forcemain are estimated at $2,637,000, a decrease of $235,000 from last year’s estimate, due to a redesign.

MD of Pincher Creek is providing $214,692 for the project from reserves, 86 per cent going toward funding the distribution and collection system and 14 per cent toward the facility.

The remaining funding is coming from grants. Small Community Funds is providing $6 million for the project, 70.7 per cent going to distribution and collection, 19.7 per cent to the lift station and force main, and just under 10 per cent to the facility.

The MD has received $4,560,000 from the Alberta Municipal Water/WasteWater Partnership, but the MD anticipates using around three-quarters of this money only, as a result of grant stacking rules.

$2,978,966 has come from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, with 74.7 per cent put toward distribution and collection, 22 per cent toward the facility and just over three per cent toward the lift station and force main.

The MD also applied for funding from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program but the bid was unsuccessful.

Reeve Rick Lemire estimates that support for the project is divided 70-30, with most people looking forward to the ease the new system will create and the increase in value it will add to local properties.

The project was originally proposed due to a need for a sanitary sewage system in Beaver Mines. Houses in the hamlet had aging septic tanks, which raised health and safety concerns. The first official development study was launched in 2014.

“I think there’ll be growing pains, but I think when the dust all settles, I think it’ll be OK,” Lemire says.

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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