“We absolutely don’t want to see Lacombe Lake used as a part of a stormwater system.”
That message from Anita Alexander, spokesperson with the Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Society who are hoping the Town of Blackfalds can find another option to its currently proposed Northwest Area Master Storm Water Management Plan.
According to Town officials, it’s a plan that proposes to see rain water from new developments in Blackfalds transported through underground pipelines to a development-specific stormwater management facility for attenuation and treatment before being discharged to Lacombe Lake, Whelp Brook and Wolf Creek.
Town of Blackfalds officials add the stormwater management facility may include settling ponds, constructed wetlands or dry ponds.
The proposal is currently awating approval from Alberta Environment and Parks.
Alexander says the Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Society formed in 2008 after water quality concerns surfaced following years of diversions from Whelp Creek into Lacombe Lake since the 1970’s to help area farmers with their irrigation activities.
A jointly-issued report from the Alberta Government and University of Alberta in 2012 titled “Nutrient Beneficial Management Practices Evaluation Project, 2007-2011” was then released in 2012 according to Alexander, further validating their concerns over the lake’s water quality.
She says the report found fertilizer components like nitrogen and phosphorus in much larger amounts in Whelp Creek than was acceptable by government and concluded “The stations on Whelp Creek failed to meet the guidelines set for the protection of fresh water aquatic life.”
Alexander says Lacombe County Council agreed to stop diversions in 2008 pending results of the joint study, with only two unplanned diversions in 2011 and 2018 taking place into Lacombe Lake since then.
“We hope all of these diversions will be stopped. When you bring any kind of foreign water to a lake, you are risking the health of that lake,” Alexander states. “You can’t filter-out fertilizer and you can’t filter-out herbicides and you can’t filter-out pesticides with the best of intentions. These plans do not include ways to get rid of a lot of contaminants that would very much affect the quality of the water in Lacombe Lake.”
As a result, Alexander says the Stewardship Society is concerned about significant weed growth, the health of the lake’s fish and the 55 species of birds that visit Lacombe Lake.
“We’re certainly hoping that Blackfalds will find another alternative to their stormwater,” states Alexander. “Of course they need something but to target a beautiful little lake that is used recreationally and has a beautiful bio-system, we would basically lose the lake. I think we owe it to future generations to ensure they have access to a nice place to swim and recreate.”
“We would like to see Lacombe Lake left out of that plan altogether,” she exclaims. “We do have some alternatives but honestly, it’s going to be up to the Town of Blackfalds to determine what alternatives they would like to do but our group is really focused on other options.”
“If this first stormwater plan were approved, does that leave Lacombe Lake basically open as a stormwater deposit for the area?” she asks. “Isn’t having a beautiful, clean lake in our midst a treasure? We don’t want any trouble with anybody, we just want to make it known to all the powers that be that we want to protect this lake, we want this lake available for future generations and we want the water to be clean and useable for all the people and the wildlife that depend on it.”
Alexander says three members of the Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Society presented their concerns to Lacombe County Council Sept. 27, but Reeve Paula Law says council does’t have a position on the proposed plan.
“We have not received a formal request from the Town of Blackfalds to acquire the land from within the county for this plan,” she explains. “We anticipate that Blackfalds will make the request after they hear from Alberta Environment on whether or not their application has been approved. So at this point in time, council has not had the discussion, so we do not have a position on that.”
Jason Penner, Communications Advisor, Alberta Environment and Parks says the government is still reviewing the request for approaval of Blackfald's Northwest Area Master Stormwater Management Plan and has since requested 'supplemental information' from the town to assist in their decision.
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