SUFFIELD, AB – Insufficient and not functional, those words from a recent report presented to Cypress County council describing the state of Suffield’s water supply.
Ward 8 councillor LeRay Pahl said enough is enough for Suffield residents.
“Well water there is absolutely horrendous, I mean we just can't put people back on that water,” said Pahl. “It just ate their hot water tanks up and their taps.”
The County is three years in to a five-year contract with CFB Suffield, which sees the base share water with the hamlet of a few hundred citizens.
Base commander LCol. Michael Onieu said while both sides have made the agreement work, it’s not one that will be long lasting.
“It's not a normal part of the defence mandate to be a water supplier to communities, but maybe the circumstance here is that it's an effective relationship,” said Onieu. “But, I think it is something that we have to review again.”
At the County’s most recent meeting, four options were presented in continuing to obtain water from the base, or building water pipelines with surrounding communities.
The first option would see upgrading the base’s water treatment plant while keeping the same supply, the second would see upgrades to the plant and abandoning the current supply, the third would see the construction of a water pipeline connecting Suffield and Medicine Hat, and the fourth would be a water pipeline with Redcliff.
However, Pahl said council is not looking to share water with the base in the future.
“We're prepared to go the other way and run a line from here to either Medicine Hat or Redcliff, we're in that negotiation right now, to Suffield,” he said. “And, hopefully we have a rural water supply then for all the rural residents going to Suffield.”
All four are costly propositions, with the Medicine Hat pipeline estimated to be around $7.5 million, while the Redcliff project would come in at an estimated $5.6 million.
The water supply report from MPE Engineering Ltd. did state that millions in provincial and federal grants could be available, though taxpayers would still cover either $814,000 or $1.6 million of these two proposals.
Onieu said discussions with the County are ongoing with two years left on the current deal.
“We'll be having a chat with them shortly, we saw the news at the same time as everyone else,” said Onieu. “But, it's not a new discussion, we have talked previously about what happens when the agreement expires in 2020. So, we know there's work to be done around that.”
Further east, the County has also dealt with issues at the Irvine and Walsh water treatment plants over the last few years.
Letters have been sent to both Medicine Hat and Redcliff councils, in the hopes of establishing a regional water line in 2018.
“All the councillors agree that this absolutely has to get done,” said Pahl. “Like I say, it probably would have been done before if we hadn't had problems with Irvine. But, it's certainly number one on everybody's list right now of things to get done.”
Whichever option is chosen, Pahl is hoping to have shovels in the ground sometime in the spring.
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