By Tim Kalinowski
The Dunmore Drainage master plan, as the old saying goes, took two steps forward and one step back at the last Cypress County council meeting held on January 12. Last year WSP took over the job of completing the engineering study for the drainage plan after previous proposals were deemed too expensive by councillors. WSP proposed using the natural drainage features of the hamlet itself instead of having to create new and expensive channelling and highway cuts to complete the project.
Last Tuesday WSP returned with its new plan, most of which was met with approval by council, but held one sharp barb of disagreement. Areas to the west and south of Dunmore would drain through existing channels and storm ponds, with the help of a new pump station, into the Bullshead and Ross Creeks. The sticking point of the new plan, as council saw it, was the proposed increased drainage into the existing wetlands located by the CPR tracks for areas north and east in the hamlet, which would then have to be pumped even further north over steep terrain through Kavan Ranch land to the Ross Creek that way.
Coun. LeRay Pahl expressed the most skepticism about the proposal.
“I don’t have a lot of faith in pumps. Just about the day you need them the damn things break down. Is there not some other way of diverting that water like a deep ditch system?” asked Pahl.
WSP Engineering representative John Ashton defended the plan to council.
“We did look into that, but what we have to take into account is this (wetland) is the absolute low area,” responded Ashton. “Everything wants to come to here, and we have a substantial uphill grade to get it over to the other side of Hwy. 41. So there really is no other way to get it out (except by pump). The problem is water won’t flow uphill. And with a cut, we would be talking a substantial cut and a substantial amount of money to make a ditch network happen.”
Reeve Darcy Geigle also expressed skepticism in getting CPR to agree to the plan as there have been a long history of complaints about how high the water is there already. Ashton explained that WSP’s proposal would actually address those problems by introducing a pump station there as an additional control on water levels that does not currently exist. He was confident CPR would look favourably on a solution to existing higher water levels which would also help them over the long term. Alberta Environment, which controls the wetlands, would also approve of more water running into the area if it was controlled, said Ashton.
“That’s why we have a pump to control the levels there. Unfortunately we can do anything about ground water, but we are trying to get all the water into that detention facility and then control the level of the detention facility.”
Geigle remained skeptical and sought more feedback from council later in the session after Ashton’s departure.
“I’m still not convinced this is an ideal solution,” said Geigle. “We are adding all these more houses over here (on the east side) and that’s going to make that (drainage to the wetlands) worse than it is already.”
Coun. Pahl concurred.
“This system (they have planned in the north) just seems to be a waste of money to me,” said Pahl.
Coun. Ernest Mudie said he believed council should to take into account WSP’s engineering credentials before making such criticisms.
“They have engineered it this far,” said Mudie. “They think they can do it. Before we throw this out as a bad idea, let’s get a little more technical details of how this is going to work. If they come back and say you will need a million dollar pump to get over the hill then we’ll know it’s not an option. But unless it gets to that point, I think we should go along with this. It’s an improvement over what we have. We just could get a few more details.”
After that council requested staff arrange for WSP to come back in February with more specific technical details on how the north drainage would actually work in practice, the easements and permissions that would be required, and what the costs would be.