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County postpones land use amendment over water issue

Posted on November 12, 2019 by 40 Mile Commentator

Justin Seward

A land use amendment reclassification will have to wait for another meeting as Cypress County council decided to postpone Syd Gechter’s request to reclassify 10 acres from Agricultural District 2 to Country Residential District at its Nov. 5 meeting.
Gechter’s request was intended so that he could develop two five acres country residential parcels at his Range Road 40 property south of the Trans Canada Highway.
Water resources were the point of debate from a couple nearby residents.
“As far as water, I had no intention of drilling water because I know that is a concern with the present acreage holders,” said Gechter.
“It’s legal to have a cistern. I didn’t feel it would disrupt anyone because it’s a truck coming to this property and delivering water, it doesn’t affect anyone. But getting to the acreages, I know a lot of people, I’ve been here a long time. There is a demand and people want hobby farms and they want to have a horse or two. That’s what brought it up.”
A cistern would be operated at the discretion of the next buyers because Gechter does not plan to develop on the land.
However there was opposition in the chamber because if water wells were to be drilled for cisterns on the property then the water table would be deleted more.
“Since 2004 I have replaced five well pumps because of sentiments burning through propellers. We do now have seven cisterns when the properties were built because people are having water problems,” said Mike Hanson, a nearby landowner.
“We had one landowner that had to drill a second well, we’ve had numerous people pull their wells, clean them, shock them, put them back together. We’ve had a couple of landowners experiencing a rotten egg smell right now.”
Hanson says when testing is done, the health department says their water is not potable.
“We’re really struggling with the water,”he said.
“We figure there(are) 12 homes at 200 gallons a day is 2,400 gallons. We’ve got water trucks going into Irvine, hauling 3,500 gallons of it multiple times a day and we can’t get water supply into our homes.”
The county director of municipal service Jeffrey Dowling says what the county ensures with any subdivision there is a water supply.
“Cypress County differs to Alberta Environment when it comes to drilling a well because as Coun. (Ernest) Mudie spoke to, that falls under their authority and jurisdiction,” said Dowling.
“Our responsibility is to make sure that there is a guaranteed water supply. Depending on your location, you may not have access to an irrigation system, you may not have the ability to connect to a water co-op. The only basic alternative is to drill water wells.”
Another nearby resident,Deborah Thompson, asked how valid the hydrology report is today and how it relates to environment change.
“I think the testing is in the moment,” said Jeffrey Dowling.
“The quality and quantity change over time as with the aquifers or as other things change, the quality can change as well. It’s basically a snap shot in time to say in the moment there is adequate water in terms of utilities to this subdivision.”
The decision was to postpone the decision until the Nov. 19 meeting and in the meantime council will reflect on the public’s concerns.

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