Councillor Darrell MacDonald has requested a study be done on Cold Lake, which will include a wide range of testing; including environmental factors, water levels, toxins, and usage. The study would be done by a third-party, the ensure the findings are by no means bias.
Mayor Cold Lake Craig Copeland explains this is something the City has been looking into for some time, “this isn’t a new conversation, Councillor MacDonald has brought this forward since [his] day 1. This is his sixth year on Council, Darrell is from Cold Lake and he’s always had a concern for the lake. It doesn’t matter who’s using the lake; whether it’s industry or municipal reasons. He wants to make sure the lake is taken care of.”
One of the concerns Councillor MacDonald has is in regards to the water levels, he wants to make sure the lake levels are not dropping at a rate that cannot be recovered, explains the Mayor, “it’s no secret that the water levels are down significantly this year. It’s been this low before, or lower. There’s been some residents that have been expressing concerns.”
Coupled with the lower levels, concerns are growing since the province designated the body of water as the regional water source and there will come a time when the lake will feed the area; including Elizabeth Settlement, Cold Lake First Nations, and Bonnyville. “The government looked at the water a few years ago and said it’s sustainable for up to 100,000 people, but Councillor MacDonald is asking to have an independent body to review that data from the government to ensure that there is a long-term viability.”
“We would like the province to come on board with us on the study, just like they’re doing on the climate review or the oil royalty; but on a tiny landscape. Looking at Cold Lake and ensure it will sustain for generations to be the regional water source.”
Mayor Copeland explains the last time there was a study done on the water it was 1985, “certainly there are people that go on the lake and look at the fish population. But, what [Councillor MacDonald] would like is an encompassing review of the Cold Lake water itself to see if anything is changed since the last time anyone looked.” The Mayor says concerns over a lack of a current study are not unfounded, “if you look at the Lakeland area, you see lakes dropping. Muriel Lake, for example, has a significant water lost. We would to verify that everything is good.”
No decisions have been made at this point, “what we’ve decided to do is to bring it forward for the 2016 budget deliberations.” Budget meetings are held in November for the upcoming year, explains Mayor Copeland, “we’re going to try to find an expression of interest [to conduct the study] from Universities or consultants to look at a review of the data that exists of Cold Lake, as well as, the water coming into Cold Lake and coming out of the lake. Also who is utilizing the water industrial-wise and municipal-wise, to see if the water is sustainable for the next many generations.”