Lac La Biche County is looking at implementing mandatory water and sewer hookups to existing municipal waterlines for Bayview residents and beyond in the interest of keeping the County’s main water source clean.
The idea of mandating hooking into municipal lines first came to council a year ago, and could potentially be a $1 million project.
“As a County, we’ve been wanting to hook up some of the subdivisions in order to protect Lac La Biche,” said Mayor Omer Moghrabi on the Day After Debrief.
“We have around 276 kilometres of lakeshore where many people have built beautiful summer homes, and this initiative is to ensure nothing goes into the lake.”
Ensuring Lac La Biche water stays clean has been a top concern for the County since at least 2005 when the main trunk lines to Plamondon and Lakeview Estates were constructed under the Infrastructure Canada-Alberta Program.
Since then Lac La Biche County has had a policy of tying in existing residential subdivisions to low-pressure municipal water and sewer services to reduce direct and indirect untreated sewage discharge into the lake.
“It’s a complicated thing,” said Moghrabi. “A lot of septic fields are older systems, and there’s the question surrounding them like are they leaking, do they meet today’s compliance, and so on.”
Bayview is the latest subdivision to come up for the waterline tie-in process, but getting the ball rolling seems to be easier said than done for the County.
When the issue came to council last week, some possible solutions included having the County hire different contractors to perform the tie-in process on a neighbourhood-to-neighbourhood basis, an annual re-inspection of existing unconnected sewer systems to ensure that they are compliant — the cost of which could fall to either individuals or the County — and continuing with Bylaw 15-001 which included $5000 fine for landowners not hooked into any of the County lines then being tied into lines on the landowner’s cost.
The County passed the Bylaw in 2017 when they found there were fewer landowners that were hooked up to services, and introduce the Bylaw with a three-year period to allow landowners to have the process done.
However, only 52 per cent of properties have been tied in, with residents citing the high costs for the tie-in, which can be anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000.
Council will continue discussing the issue, with a motion to schedule a workshop.