Dates set for appeal hearings over water plans
Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015 08:28 am
Two residents’ concerns about the safety of their drinking water will be brought out into the open in three months.
The Environmental Appeal Board earmarked April 27 to May 1 to address a number of appeals made by Turner Valley residents Roxanne Walsh and Julie Walker over the last year. The previous hearings scheduled in September and then January were postponed as more appeals came forward by Walsh.
“The dates being extended like that gives me more time to continue my review and work on my case,” said Walsh. “In the meantime, we are drinking the water without an independent review of the issue surrounding the industrial landfill.”
Walsh and Walker initially submitted appeals last spring regarding the construction of an infiltration gallery in the Sheep River and its connection to the water treatment plant.
The two expressed concerns about the gallery’s proximity to a former landfill site used by the Turner Valley Gas Plant for decades and 18 decommissioned septic fields in Calkins Place, saying the water wasn’t adequately reviewed or tested. A report conducted by Stantec Consulting in 2011 shows the area is at high risk of contamination and pollutants.
Last summer, Walsh submitted another appeal in response to the Town’s proposed water treatment plant expansion due to its connection to the infiltration gallery.
The latest appeal, which is still pending, responds to the Town seeking approval from Alberta Environment to reduce its hefty testing and monitoring restrictions for its raw water reservoir. These restrictions were put in place after Walsh appealed the construction of the Town’s raw water reservoir in 2008 due to concerns about contaminants in the vicinity.
Brian Seaman, originally slated to represent Walsh and Walker, passed the matter on to Shaun Fluker, a University of Calgary professor who has an environmental law clinic.
“I made a preliminary commitment to look at the file,” said the owner of Brian Seaman Agency in Calgary. “It became apparent to me that it was a bigger matter than I was able to handle being a one person consultant.”
Seaman will now represent Walsh and Walker as a media consultant, in charge of public relations and fundraising to cover fees associated with Walsh’s and Walker’s appeals.
He said a website regarding the appeals is expected to launch this month and will contain a short video of the case and statements of support from such people as Calgary MLA David Swann.
The Town of Turner Valley is also working to prepare for April’s public hearing.
Barry Williamson, the Town’s chief administrative officer, said the Town incurred more than $100,000 in engineering and legal costs related to the appeals so far.
“These appeals do take away from the resources we would like to spend on other things in terms of doing the Town’s business,” he said. “Extra delays means that we have to continue to focus on this issue so it does pose a demand on our resources both from a time and financial point of view. This is no small issue and the file is massive.”
Williamson said the Town abides by all the rules when it comes to the community’s drinking water.
“We have no reason to believe anything we are doing is of suspect,” he said. “We are following the regulations.”
The hearing’s location has not yet been determined.