Lacombe Lake is on the brink of extinction, if you ask the people fighting to stop a proposed stormwater pipeline from being built.
On Wednesday, The Town of Blackfalds is hosting an open house on the matter from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Blackfalds Community Centre.
Officials with the Town, Lacombe County, Stantec and Alberta Environment are expected to be in attendance to hear what area residents have to say about the project they claim threatens the lake’s future existence.
Anita Alexander, whose parents have owned lakeside property on the water body between Blackfalds and Lacombe since 1960, says if the project is approved by the province, it will undoubtedly cause a massive character change for the lake.
“I don’t think any of us that have been around the lake have any doubt it will be too late. We've got canoeists, lots of people coming out from Red Deer, the Central Alberta Rowing Club is set up on the lake, and I go swimming in it,” Alexander says. “What business does a Town have polluting a beautiful ecosystem?”
What The Town of Blackfalds wants to do is spend roughly $2 million on a pipe to convey stormwater to Lacombe Lake using gravity. The other option – which The Town has already deemed unviable – is to spend in excess of $12 million to pump the water to the Blindman River.
For the lake, Alexander says, that means an increase of 35 per cent more water being “blasted” into it, according to Stantec figures. It also means warmer water, which could affect the fish, algae and other vegetation, and that’s not to mention the many birds – orioles, swans, pelicans and loons – some of which nest on the shoreline.
“Stantec is saying we’ve got this porous soil, so don’t worry about it, and that most of it is going to be captured into the groundwater, but if you go right now to northwest Blackfalds (along RR 272) where they want to put this, you will see acres of water,” she goes on. “That water is sitting there, and that porous soil they talk about, well if that soil were indeed porous, it would be draining, but it’s not. It’s just getting deeper and deeper.”
Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole says the process has been transparent and that the project will be done responsibly.
“We’re going to have a very concise and effective presentation that’s going to explain to the public exactly how the water will flow, how it will be treated before it gets to its objective (the lake),” Poole says. “The plans are going to be explained in much greater detail and in ways that will show the public and any who have concerns how well it’s going to be worked and treated as it moves down.”
Poole says extensive studies have shown water does naturally move north, which is the reason why people shan’t be concerned about the extra water going into Lacombe Lake – because it will continue through the soil as it always has.
“All of our water will be naturally treated through four natural watersheds,” he says. “All that treatment will allow it to move into Lacombe Lake eventually and the actual discharge on a normal day will be relatively small. When people come out, they’ll see all of this in really good detail.”
While Alberta Environment must approve the project, Lacombe County would also have to agree to sell nine acres of land to The Town of Blackfalds where the potential pipeline would run through.
“Calgary developers are building lakes for people, but they’re just pits in the ground and then they throw a bunch of trees around it,” Alexander says. “We have the real thing right here. How many towns in Alberta have beautiful lakes right on their doorstep? We know there are options and we asked The Town to save this beautiful lake for future generations of not only humans, but all of the creatures.”
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