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Athabasca County receives nearly $16M in funding for water projects

Funding for Island Lake water line construction a ‘momentous achievement’ says Reeve
Athabasca County councillors motioned to request town councillors to “review” their TED committee appointment.
Athabasca County announced $15.9 million from province for clean water projects.

ATHABASCA - Athabasca County will have the funds to go ahead with its first major water line expansion since 2012 after it was approved for nearly $16 million in funding from a provincial program that aims to improve access to clean drinking water.

“The recent confirmation of the Water for Life grant approval marks a momentous achievement for the County, reinforcing our dedication to securing vital resources for the region,” said Reeve Brian Hall in a June 20 release announcing the funding.

“This significant milestone underscores the collaborative spirit and proactive approach taken by county council, the water commission, and the summer village regional partners in championing the region’s water infrastructure development.”

The $15.9 million will go towards four projects: up to $14.9 million will go towards construction for the Island Lake Regional Water Extension, $819,000 will go towards the design for the project, and feasibility studies for an extension to the Hamlets of Caslan and Rochester will both be funded for up to $74,500.

“We look forward to working with our regional partners to see this project move forward, which will provide a valuable water source to our Summer Village, and all other residents in the west part of Athabasca County,” said Chad Newton, Mayor of the Summer Village of Island Lake.

The initial request for the project came from the Aspen Regional Water Services Commission, who will be responsible for the pipeline following its construction.

“I am very grateful for the leadership of the various municipal councils and stakeholders advocating for this project,” said Jamie Giberson, the commission’s manager. “The provincial government has recognized the collaborative spirit of this region and continues to be generous in awarding funding to improve the drinking water systems in the greater Athabasca County Region. I believe this is something we can all celebrate.”

Related: Island Lake Water line awaiting grant approval

Athabasca County initially approved a motion to apply for the grant during their Nov. 14, 2023, meeting.

The extension would see a pipeline run under the Town of Athabasca to Range Road 232, before continuing to Baptiste Lake where a reservoir will be placed for commercial trucks to fill up. From there, a personal truck-fill with potable water will be placed in Island Lake, similar to stations in Grassland and Colinton.

Residents who live in other portions of the county should also see a benefit from the project, which could reduce their own water costs, according to Hall.

“Adding additional customers to the water foremost matters for the customers, they’ll have clean water available,” said Athabasca County Reeve Brian Hall last November. “For the rest of the county residents, and the folks in the town and the Village of Boyle, the expansion will lower the unit cost of water.”

The grant funding will cover 90 per cent of the Island Lake waterline expenses — Athabasca County estimated the local cost will be around $1.3 million.

Other proposed options — including a $33 million water treatment plant at Island Lake — were discarded during the planning process.

"On behalf of County Council, I wish to express our sincere gratitude to Minister Dreeshen and the province for the grant, and MLA Glenn van Dijken for his instrumental role in advocating for our project," said Hall. 

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