Towns ask for river pipeline
High Country: Water solution sought
Wednesday, Jul 12, 2017 10:13 am
The Towns of Turner Valley and Black Diamond are asking to pump water directly out of the Sheep River in a bid to restore their water supplies, which were wiped out in the 2013 floods.
The $1.5 million system could pump as much as 6,500 cubic metres of water per day out of the river to help replenish the town’s water reservoir when it is getting low.
“We are convinced this will get us back up to 100 per cent capacity,” said Turner Valley CAO Barry Williamson, who is also the acting CEO for the Sheep River Regional Utility Corporation (SRRUC), which oversees the water supply for the two towns.
SRRUC is owned 45 per cent by each municipality and the MD of Foothills owns the remaining 10 per cent.
Williamson said the towns have only recovered around 65 per cent of their water supply since the floods wiped out their water wells. Since then one well has been recovered and two more were dug. As a result the towns have been on water restrictions for the past four years.
Williamson said an application was sent to Alberta Environment and Parks last week requesting the pipeline system. Black Diamond has also made an application to have its remaining water licenses transferred to the SRRUC. Turner Valley has already transferred its water licenses to the SRRUC.
“We are trying to recover that last 30 to 35 per cent,” he said.
The direct draw system will have a removable pump connected to floating intake on the river. Underground pipes will take the river water to a 16,000 cubic meter stilling pond, where sediment will settle to the bottom. From there the water will be piped to the raw water reservoir, which holds 186,000 cubic metres of water.
Williamson said a pilot project looked at when the water levels are high enough and the turbidity in the river is low enough to draw water directly.
The settling pond will need to be dredged regularly, Williams said.
The direct draw system cannot be used year round, he added, because the river can’t be drawn from in the winter when it is frozen over or when the water level is too low.
The current water licences are for ground water under the direct influence of surface water. Williamson said a surface water licence for a river pipeline will be from the same source.
If the water pipeline is approved, SRRUC will need to apply for $600,000 more in disaster relief funding.
Williamson said they have about $950,000 left from money previously given to the towns following the flooding.
This will be the last step in a plan to restore the water supply for Black Diamond and Turner Valley, he said.
Since the flood, the SRRUC was established, Turner Valley’s water treatment plant has been expanded, one well was recovered and two were dug using disaster recovery funding.
If the pipeline is put in, residents will likely still be under water restrictions, he added.
The towns are currently under level 2 water restrictions, which limits when residents can use water outdoors.
“I’m not sure we are ever getting off level two,” Williamson said. “We are trying to avoid going back to level three.”
The towns each use about 2,000 cubic metres of water per day.