Public shows support for regional water plan
Black Diamond: Residents say they are glad to see communities working together
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 10:38 am
Foothills residents like what they see in a plan to establish a shared water
system between four municipalities.
An open house outlining the potential of a Quad Regional Water Partnership (QRWP) between Black Diamond, Turner Valley, the MD of Foothills and, in the future, Longview to share water resources was held at the Black Diamond Municipal Building on March 12.
Approximately 12 residents showed up to the event and were receptive to a regional system between the four communities.
“I think we’ve got to go together with the other communities,” said Black Diamond resident Don Thomson. “The more people you have in a project the more we can share infrastructure costs.”
Thomson said he attended the meeting to learn how the project could impact his tax bill.
Information presented at the meeting showed that, if approved, the QRWP is expected to save Turner Valley $1,950,000 and Black Diamond $3,155,000 in capital costs and $675,000 and $1,925,000 respectively in operating and maintenance costs over the next 25 years compared to having their own stand-alone systems.
Residents also learned the QRWP calls for upgrading the Turner Valley water treatment plant to increase capacity for 25 years, as well as meet the newest Alberta Environment standards and offer additional space for enhanced treatment processes. Other changes include a new pump station and water pipeline to pump water to Black Diamond and removing the treatment equipment in the Black Diamond water treatment plant, which will likely be used as a metering station.
Thomson said it’s important the two communities work together to prepare for growth.
“The way I see it Turner Valley, Black Diamond is going to be the next area of growth (in the Calgary area),” he said. “Twenty years from now we are going to look different. If they get regional transit in it’s going to be interesting.”
Black Diamond resident Gord Tomte is also glad to see the communities work together toward a regional water partnership.
“Doing it together is a good idea,” he said. “We have to do something soon. Our water treatment plant has needed upgrading for a while.”
Although Tomte supports the partnership, he questioned the costs presented at the open house.
“I don’t think the numbers are real because of the nature of this area,” he said. “I look at what happened with the reservoir. It went over budget because of the history of the oil patch.”
Tomte said he is disappointed with the lack of attendance at last week’s meeting and that the public wasn’t given adequate information beforehand.
“I don’t think a lot of people know or it would have brought out more people,” he said. “It affects every resident in town.”
Turner Valley Coun. Barry Williamson said he sees the lack of attendance as a sign people support the potential partnership.
“They tend to want to come out if they think there is something that’s concerning,” he said. “There are enough people working on it that you’ve got to believe it’s in the best interest of the community.”
Black Diamond Mayor Sharlene Brown said the public received plenty of notification about the meeting with information posted on community boards, online and through media.
“People were elected to make decisions on behalf of the people,” she said. “If we don’t have people showing up to these things is it really our communication or is it people are okay with the decision we are making?”
Brown said most people in attendance were receptive to the plan although she did have some express concerns about sharing water resources with Turner Valley.
“Some people are concerned about the off-stream storage in Turner Valley,” she said. “The concern is they don’t want to use stagnant water. The water goes through the same filtering system as the other water.”
Brown said the off-stream storage is vital for both communities, especially in times of emergencies. She said in 2005 Black Diamond lost its ability to provide clean potable water to residents when the Sheep River flooded that June.
Brown said it was Turner Valley’s water supply that came to the rescue that year.
“(The off-stream storage) is there for emergency purposes just like the Town of Black Diamond’s underground reservoir for potable water,” she said. “When we all share the same system it’s easier for us to provide the services that are essential.”
Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck said it’s important people know about the project before the committees move forward and present it to council.
“It was just understanding the process, how it’s going to work and why we are doing this,” she said. “I didn’t hear any real opposition to it.”
If the plan is approved, the next step is to establish a utility corporation and the regional partners will each contribute their share of the costs for existing and new infrastructure, said Tuck. Forty-five per cent of the costs would be covered each by Turner Valley and Black Diamond and 10 per cent by the MD of Foothills.