By Stan Ashbee
Alberta Newspaper Group
According to County of Forty Mile Utilities Manager Stewart Payne, the Foremost Regional Water Treatment Plant was completed a little more than a year ago and as part of that project, a regional pipeline to transport water to local communities was a part of the plan.
“We broke up the pipeline into three different contracts. Contract A was from Foremost to Etzikom. Contract B was from Etzikom to Orion and Contract C was from Orion to Manyberries,” he explained.
As part of the planning for the project, he noted, there was a lot of consultation that needed to be done. “We had to consult with Alberta Environment, historical resources, public lands and with aboriginal groups and treaty rights in the area. As part of those consultations, we learned there was some environmental species at risk issues.”
“Our community is well aware of sage-grouse issues. Sage-grouse are listed as an endangered species in Canada. We had to accommodate our construction plans. We changed the design routing of the pipeline because we needed to accommodate those type of issues,” he added.
After the design and studies were completed, he said, tenders were sent out and three different contracts were awarded. “Contract A was constructed to completion. Contract B was constructed — so far as we had access of the public lands approval — was delayed for a number of reasons.”
“It didn’t actually finish. We constructed everything but the crossing through public lands,” he said. And Contract C was completed all within the construction window through the species at risk the last year, he added.
Payne said the county was also waiting on public lands approval to finish Contract B, but it was delayed for a number of reasons.
“It was delayed basically because of the first come, first serve files they had to go through,”
Another delay, he said, was a fire in their building took out their server network and the files that were on the server had to be found. “The fire was a significant delay,” he said, adding the provincial elections were another delay.
“We did receive approval to go through the public lands in June, so we are in possession of authorization to construct the pipeline through public lands,” he noted.
With approvals, he said, now it’s back to waiting for a construction window with the species at risk. A construction window for work in that area will see construction begin this fall.
“We have two and a half months to finish the pipeline this fall, which is reasonable. I don’t foresee any other obstacles to overcome. We should be able to have water to Manyberries before Christmas,” Payne said.
Payne noted water has been flowing to Etzikom now for four or five months. “There’s obviously growing pains. We still don’t have 100 per cent completion on the mechanical contract, so the pump house needs some work — but it’s operating. There are growing pains with water quality issues.”
With different treatments people are not quite used to, he said. “I think it’s all settling out now.”