By Jamie Rieger
The design of the water pipeline from Foremost to Manyberries has caused the County of Forty Mile more hurdles than they initially anticipated as they deal with Alberta Environment and Environment Canada on environmental issues.
“Alberta Environment and the EPO have been putting up hurdles and we will be holding meetings to overcome some of them,” said Stewart Payne, utilities manager for the County. “They asked us to change the route. The feds said ok, but the province said, “No, move it. This could result in significant extra miles added to the project,” said Payne.
The pipeline eastward is divvied into three phases: Foremost to Etzikom, Etzikom to Orion, and Orion to Manyberries. Along the route from Foremost to Etzikom, the pipe must be bored into the coulee. A representative from Alberta Environment indicated that there is a snake den at that location, prompting the agency to not allow the pipeline to take that course.
“Environmental assessments are done for wildlife and vegetation and those reports go to Alberta environment officers who give us their concerns and requirements. They are concerned about snakes and open trenches. We know there are rattlesnakes out there. This is southern Alberta, but we did not expect Alberta Environment to be as forward as it came through,” said Payne. “Finding a rattlesnake den along the pipeline route was not expected.”
“Once the pipeline route has been determined, part of a land agent’s responsibility is doing the environmental assessment. These reports have to go to Alberta Environment and Parks,” said Payne. “We have also had to work closely with the Feds because of the EPO (Emergency Protection Order for the Greater sage grouse).”
At this point, there are plans for directional drilling in places where there are environmental issues. The line from Foremost to Etzikom will be 6” pipe and is where the directional drilling would be necessary, while the Etzikom to Manyberries will be 4” and can be ploughed in.
“In our county, with the coulees, the draw is fairly steep and we can go around or under. With the wetlands, which is anywhere there is aquatic wildlife,” he said. “We have been working hard to get things lined up. The engineers have been working hard and the land agent has been putting in long hours to get easements secured and all of these processes take time.”
The project is a collaboration between the County and Village of Foremost, who both received letters from Alberta Environment in 2012 that indicated their water license approvals would soon be expiring and they needed to comply with provincial and federal water standards because of naturally-occurring fluoride levels that had been detected in water samples.
The Alberta government released funding under its Water for Life program, and the federal government through its Clean Water and Wastewater fund. The federal funding came with a deadline for completion; water needs to be flowing through the pipe by the end of March, 2018.
“It was a regulatory requirement to improve water quality in our hamlets,” said Payne, who believes that they will still be able to meet their tight deadline on getting water flowing through the pipe, adding that there are further meetings planned with Alberta Environment and Environment Canada.
“There is always something and we have to keep on it and figure out ways to work with it or around it,” he said.