Many people are concerned for the ecosystem of Lacombe Lake, after the Town of Blackfalds held a public meeting to share their Stormwater Master Plan.
The plan includes creating a system that moves stormwater overland into Lacombe Lake — which currently doesn’t receive stormwater from the town.
Anita Alexander, a Lacombe Lake resident and user for 58 years, is against the Town’s proposal and voiced her concerns at the meeting.
“Once you have a lake that is dealing with stormwater, you have a whole bunch of issues that will be never-ending,” she said in an interview with the Lacombe Express. “It will be a never-ending issue of chemicals because stormwater is absolutely anything that washes off the soil and street.
“If you Google stormwater, you are going to see pesticides, herbicides, organic materials, heavy metals, oil and grease, hydrocarbons, bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus — each of those comes with concerns.”
Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole said the meeting was to help explain that the stormwater system will purify the water and will be of “Good design”.
“It is an important project for both our town and our region and it’s design has been made to meet or exceed Alberta Environment standards for stormwater management,” he said.
According to Poole, concerns about water quality in the lake are not a justified concern.
“As soon as the water goes through the first level of clarification, it already will meet the Alberta Environment Standard,” he said. “They are the people who are in control and in charge of the lake. All of those types of bodies of water are ruled by Alberta Environment and we are making sure we are answering all of those concerns.
“The first level of clarification will meet those standards. After that, it goes though three more levels of natural clarification through wetlands.”
Alexander’s further concern is that the system being built by the Town will inevitably break down.
“The stormwater ponds are meant to filter some of those contaminants but stormwater ponds are high maintenance,” she said. “Like any system it breaks down. It is not a question of if things break down, it is when they break down.
“Even if the system is working well, we know we will end up with all kinds of things that we are not dealing with right now.”
According to Poole, the cost of this project is around $2 million — about $10 million less than the $12 million it would cost to run stormwater into the Blindman River.
He added the town has received 17 letters of concern, all of those have been addressed personally to town staff and have also been forwarded to Alberta Environment and Parks for final approval.
“Our staff have talked to each of them individually to make sure that their concerns and that the answer to their concerns have been met,” he said. “All of this information will all go to Alberta Environment who will evaluate the responses to ensure we are meeting all of the regulations.”
Poole expects it will take four to six months for Alberta Environments and Parks to return with an answer.
Alexander said she and others from the Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Society will continue to advocate for the health of the lake.
“Hopefully Alberta Environment and Parks will not approve this application. We hope they will see the value of keeping this beautiful lake intact for generations to come,” she said.
If approval does come, Poole said that the Town will conduct a five-year study on the health of the lake.
He added that Lacombe County has approved the public consultation portion of this project but has not approved the project in Council and will wait to see the results from Alberta Environment and Parks.
Alexander, after attending the meeting, still does not see the value in the Town’s plan.
“It is on the doorstep of Lacombe, Red Deer and Blackfalds and we appreciate our lake. People come from all over to use the lake. This is a lake that is owned by the people of Alberta, so why would a municipality risk polluting it?” she said.