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County hopes to reopen Thunder Lake lagoon with help from province

County of Barrhead working with Alberta Environment for an emergency release at its Thunder Lake wastewater lagoon which would allow it to re-open the facility
County of Barrhead infrastructure director Ken Hove gave council an update on the Thunder Lake wastewater lagoon during the May 21 council meeting.

BARRHEAD - The County of Barrhead hopes Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEP) will grant the municipality an emergency release at its Thunder Lake wastewater lagoon.

That is what infrastructure director Ken Hove said during the April 21 council meeting.

Public works closed the lagoon for the season on April 5, following the regular spring inspection, showing it was already at total capacity.

Hove said that administration was working with the province, notably the previously mentioned (AEP), to release some of the effluent, allowing the municipality to re-open the facility.

"We've got the emergency release plan in place," interjected county manager Debbie Oyarzun. "[Alberta Environment] has accepted that. The last step is getting Crown approval."

Later in the meeting, Hove and Oyarzun noted that part of the delay is the process of the discharge going onto Crown land.

Hove added that public works is also keeping close tabs on the wastewater lagoon at Dunstable.

He added that septic waste haulers had unloaded about 2,000 cubic metres of wastewater into the lagoon since its re-opening in October after a lengthy closure. Given its limit of 3,236 cubic metres, Hove projected that they would have to close the facility again for the season in June or July, with septic haulers being redirected to other lagoons, most notably the one operated by Lac Ste. Anne County. Since 2011, the County of Barrhead has had an agreement with the municipality for County of Barrhead residents to use the facility.

Historically, the municipality's wastewater lagoons in Dunstable, Neerlandia, and Thunder Lake have experienced capacity issues, forcing emergency releases or prolonged closures. The county's other wastewater lagoons are in Manola and Neerlandia, the latter of which just underwent a significant expansion. Before that, the aging facility, while it did not suffer from multiple closures, was nearing its capacity limits.

On April 16, a Lightning Bay (Resort) Condo Association delegation expressed their concerns to County of Barrhead councillors, stating that the closure of the Thunder Lake lagoon would significantly increase their septic tank cleaning rates. The resort, about 20 minutes west of Barrhead has over 70 residences. 

Association historian Greg Lindholm said (on April 16) it was a difficult situation, adding that the Prefontaines built the lagoon in the late 1970s; they meant it to serve Lightning Bay Resort and a 300-acre development to the west that never came to be.

Other county utility updates

Hove added that True Depth Diving Services inspected the water reservoirs in Neerlandia and Manola as part of the county's regular cleaning and maintenance schedule.

"Overall, they are in good condition," he said. "However, the inspection did identify some items that will need to be scheduled for future replacement and repairs."

Specifically, Hove said the inspection found some corrosion on the floor of Manola's reservoir.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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