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Water restrictions will continue for months

Turner Valley residents were told it could be months before water restrictions are lifted.
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Turner Valley residents were told it could be months before water restrictions are lifted.

Eight residents who attended an open house held by the Turner Valley Water Works Advisory Committee on June 25 learned they might have some relief from the water restrictions at the end of July, but they likely won’t be lifted entirely for months.

Water restrictions were put in place a year ago when Turner Valley began supplying water to Black Diamond after Black Diamond’s water treatment plant was damaged in the 2013 flood. As a result, residents and merchants are prohibited from using water for outdoor uses such as filling pools and hot tubs, pressure washing and watering lawns and gardens.

The Town of Turner Valley, Water Works Advisory Committee, MPE Engineering have been tasked to finding adequate water sources and Stantec is responsible for ensuring government regulations and standards are met. Representatives from those organization talked about the process that has taken place over the last 12 months to supply both communities with water, the current water levels and what is being done to sustain both communities with water into the future.

Those in attendance learned the Town’s one remaining well was reconnected to the reservoir and a second was drilled and operating last winter. The town is awaiting approval from Alberta Environment for a third well and an infiltration gallery that takes water from the Sheep River gravel bed.

The existing wells can’t sufficiently supply the two communities. As a result, water was also pumped from a pit near the Sheep River in the fall and again in early June, but was shut down for about a week in mid-June due to the dangers of contamination from the rising waters of the Sheep River.

Barry Williamson, chairman of the Quad Water Regional Partnership and the Town’s chief administrative officer, said once the two wells are approved the Town can begin topping up the reservoir, which reached its lowest point at 41 per cent capacity in mid-June when the water supply from the pit was shut down. After a few weeks, if everything goes well, the water conservation advisory, currently at level three, will be lifted, he said.

Rather than lift the restrictions altogether, Williamson said the Town will likely downgrade to level two, which mandates residents and merchants utilize water for outdoor use, such as watering lawns and washing cars, on alternating days as designated by the Town.

“You don’t want people to go crazy,” he said of lifting the restrictions altogether. “We need to be careful how we do that.”

Turner Valley resident Gary Rowntree, who attended last week’s open house, said he feels the Town is doing the best it can.

“They are taking the steps that they need to do to get everything running,” he said. “Obviously we are sharing (water) with another community and the infrastructure was built to support us here. Now it’s having to support both towns.”

Turner Valley resident John Waring, who also attended, said he feels better informed about the water situation in his community.

“It seemed to me that everybody involved is doing a first-rate job,” he said. “They knew what they were talking about and they knew what they were doing. It was good to hear it first-hand.”

Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck said she was surprised more residents didn’t show up to the open house, adding people have been asking her daily when the water restrictions will be lifted.

“I was definitely taken aback to see only eight people show up for the open house,” she said. “I thought it would be standing room only.”

Tuck said the open house was well advertised and said a newsletter was distributed to Turner Valley residents last month updating them on the water situation answered all of their questions.

“Maybe people felt that they had enough information,” she said.

To keep updated on the water situation in Turner Valley go to www.turnervalley.ca




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Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at OkotoksToday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact trollie@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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