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Councillors voice concern over Ashmont-Lottie Lake water project

Feb 18, 2014 11:15 am | Janice Huser

Progress on the Ashmont/Lottie Lake water project appears to have slowed down, following a meeting between the County of St. Paul council and Alberta Transportation representative Mike Yakimchuk, last week.

A delegation was held on Tuesday afternoon between council and Yakimchuk to discuss the future of the Ashmont/Lottie Lake project. The most recent option being explored by council was to bring water from the St. Paul water treatment plant to Ashmont, but according to cost estimates, that is not the option Yakimchuk recommended council take.

As had been announced previously, the Water for Life program was cut in half during the last budget and the province is working on getting current projects finished, said Yakimchuk.

Because of the budget restraints, he told council the province is looking for the “lowest capital cost” option, with a “reasonable” price for the end user.

Yakimchuk also explained that the project to bring EPCOR water to Spedden is nearly complete, and Spedden actually started getting water a couple weeks ago. He added that the costs to continue bringing the water from Spedden to Ashmont are easier to predict than other options.

The county has explored three options for bringing water to Ashmont. The first option is bringing water from Spedden to Ashmont, which would cost about $3.7 million; the second is the St. Paul to Ashmont line, which would cost about $6 million; and the third is upgrading the Ashmont water treatment plant, which would cost about $8 million, said Yakimchuk.

“The shorter the length, the fewer the dollars,” he said, noting that the shortest length of pipe would be between Spedden and Ashmont. Yakimchuk added that if the county proceeds with the project, he would recommend it be the Spedden to Ashmont line.

When asked about the cost of water for users, Yakimchuk said he believed the prices of EPCOR water would be more stable than water from the St. Paul treatment plant, especially if further upgrades have to be done years down the road.

“The actual rates are more highly governed,” said Yakimchuk when speaking about EPCOR water.

As he finished his presentation, Yakimchuk said that with more than a $2 million difference between the first and second options, it would be hard for him to recommend the St. Paul to Ashmont option to the minister.

Council asked Yakimchuk about the Water for Life program, and what would happen if the county decided to do nothing now.

“My concern is that if we delay this, we’re not going to be in line for this funding,” said Coun. Maxine Fodness.

Coun. Frank Sloan expressed his concern over the process that’s been followed with the Ashmont/Lottie Lake water project.

“I’m kind of a little bit irked over this whole system,” said Sloan, adding, it seems as if all the work that has been done so far is money that’s been “wasted,” and “we’re back at square one.”

Yakimchuk said if it hadn’t been for a deadline imposed by Alberta Environment in regards to water at Lottie Lake, the county could have taken its time to make a decision, adding, “You make decisions with what you have.”

Coun. Cliff Martin asked Yakimchuk about the potential for a line to go from Ashmont to Mallaig, since that was also part of the county’s plans for the water system.

Yakimchuk recommended it be marked down and done as Phase II of the project. He confirmed that the line coming from Spedden and going to Ashmont would have the capacity to service Mallaig.

After Yakimchuk left council chambers, councillors continued to discuss the issue.

“We went full circle here,” said Coun. Glen Ockerman, adding, the money that has been spent so far appears to be a much bigger waste than the water that was leaking from a line break on a private residence at Lottie Lake in 2012.

Sloan added that the county had been told numerous times the capacity at Spedden wouldn’t be built in for Ashmont, but it now appears it is already there.

“We’ve got to move forward . . . We need to look at how we can best serve the people using this water,” said Fodness.

“At the end of the day, it’s all going to be fine,” said Reeve Steve Upham, adding, “We’re not going to make a decision today.”

Sloan agreed, saying, “We’ve got some homework to do here.”

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