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Picture Butte’s wastewater world

Posted on February 10, 2014 by Sunny South News

A delegation from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development visited a recent Town of Picture Butte council meeting on Jan. 27 to discuss the proposal of a Regional Wastewater Line. The delegation consisted of Kathleen Murphy, Dorothy Lok and Rob Burland from the Lethbridge office of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

“I know last year at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development was very supportive of the Regional Wastewater Line that we want to partner with Lethbridge with and we want to make sure that Alberta Environment is supportive of us on that,” said Picture Butte Mayor Wendy Jones.

Burland responded by reminding council Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development is supportive of regional systems, as the systems are efficient and from an environmental standpoint there are many advantages to it.

“Certainly, we would be supportive of that. Our role within Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development — we are the regulator within these systems. We work with the municipalities to make sure that they’re complying with the approval requirements in the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act,” he said.

“We like to see these systems. We’re more than prepared to work with you in having the collection systems properly approved,” added Burland, during his discussion with council.

Presently, according to Lok, the Town of Picture Butte is operating under an approval for a wastewater system. The approval, Lok said, is to be renewed every 10 years.

“Right now, based on your current approval, it comes up for renewal Mar. 1, 2017. In this approval, you currently don’t have an upgrading requirement from us, as of yet. But, when the approval comes up, we will be putting the requirement and at that point leading up there will be upgrading requirements based on, just where your plant is at and how it’s doing. We’ll do an assessment at that time or we may require you to do an assessment. My understanding is that a study had been done already, just to see where the Town of Picture Butte is at,” said Lok.

Town Chief Administrative Officer Mike Derricott noted 2010 was when the original study was set out and the concept of the regional system was created between 2011 and 2012.

“Our dilemma is we’ve gone twice to Alberta Transportation,” added Jones. “Right now, there’s no money,” she said, as Alberta Transportation is the branch of the government that would fund the initiative.

“I do believe that this regional line is a much better and sustainable fix for a small community like ours,” said Jones. “What we’re facing now is an extension on our licence.”

Jones asked the delegation what would happen if the town was not approved for renewal in 2017.

Lok said the way renewals work with approvals is, the town’s current system, as is, will be renewed, as it is currently.

“What we do in a new approval is if there’s a requirement to upgrade based on the standards you’re following now and what’s coming up in the future, we will put the requirement in the new approval and give you time to upgrade at that point,” said Lok.

Derricott said the town doesn’t want to be forced into spending seven or eight million dollars on a local upgrade if a regional system is a long-term goal and he asked the delegation if there is a possible time extension so the town can work with the province on the funding side with Alberta Transportation. But, unfortunately, it may be a while before this type of project is a funding priority.

“From an environmental standpoint it’s a no-brainer. Now it’s just the matter of matching up the funding and timelines,” said Derricott, adding that gives the town more time to work with Lethbridge County to get more people coming on board with the project.

“Which of course will look more appealing to Alberta Transportation,” said Derricott.

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