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Winnifred residents want movement soon on water infrastructure

Posted on August 13, 2019 by 40 Mile Commentator

Justin Seward
Commentator/Courier

Winnifred residents are hoping there is some movement from the County of Forty Mile soon on the getting irrigated and potable water to their homes.
Residents have had to haul water in for drinking and watering their yards for a long time and it now has become more challenging since Bow Island closed down their bulk water station in May.
“We’re looking forward to actually seeing some action,” said Winnifred Community spokesperson Eric Musekamp.
“We’re also very anxious to see progress on the water. We’re not sure what they decided to do there. Now that the Town of Bow Island has closed their water tap, it’s been kind of a (grind) out here for us in Winnifred.”
Musekamp says the hamlet in the east side of the county is continuing to grow and is continuing to see progress.
“There’s a lot of interest in Winnifred because it’s a very nice community,” he said.
“The location is particularly nice being so close to Bow Island and Medicine Hat, but still in the country. I think the water issue is a snag right now.”
He does not foresee getting water to the area a challenge.
“We’re right adjacent to irrigated lands. They border the town,” he said.
“We don’t think it will be that hard to bring in irrigation water. At the most recent meeting there was a discussion Water4Life strategy and running a potable water line out from Bow Island. I think that’s one of the things that county council is considering.”
He noted that Winnifred is the only hamlet in the county that has no water, while other communities such as Manyberries, Skiff and Orion have potable and irrigation water systems.
“We think it’s imminently reasonable and timely for Winnifred to also get some of these amenities,” he said.
Winnifred has been without those water sources dating back to the history of the community because it was considered to be an abandoned community because of not receiving natural gas which really slowed things down, he said.
“We’re not exactly sure,” he said of why there is no water.
“Some of the residents are paying a pretty hefty tax bill. We’re paying taxes comparable to Bow Island.”
The community now has natural gas, he added.
People who built in the hamlet were under the impression that water was coming and were encouraged to plant trees which those residence have done, said Musekamp.
“The place is really starting to bloom,” he said.
“But we’re left with 40 miles for water. We’re hopeful that they’re going to step up and do something.”
An initial short term solution proposal from the community to the county was to ask a neighbouring farmer to pump some water into a storage tank at Winnifred and let the residents draw from that.
The long term would be to run a water line from Bow Island under the Water4Life Strategy.
The closest bulk water stations are in Burdett and Seven Persons.
Additionally there is other maintenance that has to be done.
With heavy truck traffic and 250 cars coming and going on a regular basis, the road is wrecked and needs to be repaired.
“We have to go through four places where there is standing water on the road between Winnifred and the highway,” he said.
“It needs attention because of the traffic level.”
A solid waste agreement is being worked on by the county with Bow Island.
The hamlet has 23 houses with a total of 70 residents.
“We’re pleased that the county is taking an interest and we look forward to working with them to make Winnifred the beautiful place that it’s going to be.”
County Reeve Steve Wikkerink declined to comment.

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