Stettler county council heard a presentation at their July 14 regular meeting from a property owner who told them a release of water from the Red Willow sewage lagoon was not his fault.
Glen Goertzen of Mike-Ro Farms Ltd. appeared before council to respond to a report filed by county staff at the May 12 regular meeting of council.
At that meeting Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk reported the release of treated effluent from the Red Willow lagoon in the fall of 2020 and “...the outfall of treated effluent did not fully follow the established ditch and there was some accumulation in an adjacent wetland, so the drainage was stopped...Examination in the spring has shown that the ditch may no longer be consistent with the as-constructed grades due to use by farming operations that have deposited cultivated soils into the ditch.”
Goertzen stated he disagreed with that assessment.
“There was no way the farming operations (caused it),” said Goertzen.
He noted that he’s seen high points in the route where the water was supposed to go, and pointed out one spot he’s seen a three and a half foot rise which would obviously cause an issue for running water.
He noted he’d received a phone call in 2020 from county staff notifying him that they wanted to release the lagoon’s water, but Goertzen stated he was worried the water was not going to go where the county wanted it to, specifically section 21.
Goertzen stated he asked the county staff not to release the water until they talked it over.
Goertzen stated he then found out the water had been released which ran over the municipal road in two places and which he then went to see in person.
Afterwards the property owner met with county staff again and an agreement was struck where they would consult each other before anything else was done.
In the spring 2021 they met in person at the site and saw that the effluent would not have followed the planned route.
The property owner pointed out that statements in a previous ECA Review story covering the May 12 Stettler County council meeting claiming farming practises contributed to the problem were wrong and needed to be corrected.
He also noted he never received samples of the water after it was released onto his land. A
neighbour later told him the county put a fence up in the area and he didn’t see the need for that and that a berm was also being built and he didn’t consent to that either.
Goertzen noted the County of Stettler does not have an easement on his property, then said, “I don’t think I want to be the holding pond for the Red Willow sewage system.”
Goertzen then stated he was disappointed the county staff didn’t work with him on the water release and without an easement he doesn’t think they could release water on his land, which he farmed for many years and which he now rents out to another fellow.
After his presentation, Reeve Larry Clarke thanked Goertzen for coming in and stated that the county wants to work with him and would be responding to him with a letter.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review