Citizen launches fourth appeal
Turner Valley: Hearing likely delayed until spring
Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 08:38 am
A public hearing addressing two residents’ concerns about the safety of Turner Valley’s drinking water scheduled for January has been pushed forward once again following a fourth appeal.
After the Town of Turner Valley requested Alberta Environment reduce its hefty testing and monitoring restrictions for its raw water reservoir, Roxanne Walsh submitted an appeal to the Environmental Appeal Board regarding the request. This is the Turner Valley resident’s fourth ongoing appeal relating to the town’s water supply.
Walsh wrote in an email to the Western Wheel that she has nothing to say about the appeals at this time.
In 2008, Walsh successfully appealed the construction of the town’s raw water reservoir, resulting in an increase in testing requirements for the water.
However, the Town is now seeking approval from Alberta Environment to stop the additional testing.
Barry Williamson, the Town’s chief administrative officer, said the town consistently meets the standards.
“There’s regulations for how you have to run your treatment process with a municipality and we are meeting all the regulations and have been meeting all the regulations,” he said. “We are more than meeting them with all the testing parameters that are in place compared to what other municipalities are held to.”
Gilbert Van Nes, the Environmental Appeal Board lawyer and spokesperson, said the Town of Turner Valley will provide six years worth of data showing the test results.
“The basis of their request is it hasn’t been a concern in the last six years and they are asking that monitoring be reduced,” he said.
Van Nes said Walsh requested enhanced monitoring in 2008 over concerns about the potential for contaminants in the area surrounding the reservoir. The board accepted her appeal.
In the spring, Walsh and fellow Turner Valley resident Julie Walker appealed the construction of an infiltration gallery in the Sheep River, as well as its connection to the water treatment plant. The two residents expressed concern about the water source’s proximity to a former landfill site used by the Turner Valley Gas Plant for decades, as well as 18 septic fields that were decommissioned in Calkins Place earlier this year.
The Town established the new water source after the municipality lost all but one water well in the 2013 flood.
Walsh and Walker suggest the water wasn’t adequately reviewed or tested and refer to a report conducted by Stantec Consulting in 2011 that states the area is at high risk of contamination and pollutants.
The original hearing date was scheduled for September until Walsh submitted an additional appeal this past summer in response to the Town’s proposal to expand its water treatment plant, of which is being supplied by the infiltration gallery.
The proposed expansion is a result of the plant now supplying Black Diamond residents with drinking water after the town’s water treatment plant was destroyed in the 2013 flood.
Following that appeal, the hearing date was moved to Jan. 19 and 20, 2015.
To allow adequate time to compile information for Walsh’s latest appeal, Van Nes said the hearing must be extended.
“The record is so large we will likely use four days,” he said, adding the hearing was initially set for two. “My feeling is it will be the end of March to have enough time to review this information and get their submissions together.
“There’s an obligation to have a fair hearing and everyone have a chance to put their information forward and have the board make the best possible decision they can.”
Williamson said this latest appeal means more of the Town’s time and money will be spent on preparing for the hearing, and he expects the price tag to grow beyond its existing cost of $100,000.
“Right now Turner Valley is pretty well footing the bill and we will look to get some relief on that as we move along,” he said.
Possible options include financial support from the EAB, Province or Quad Water Regional Partnership, Williamson said.
“The town will likely still have some penalties associated with this,” he said. “What we will do is we will exhaust all of the avenues for recovery.”