County wades in on regional water upgrade

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County council plans to meet with its municipal and First Nations’ neighbours before it moves forward on a regional water system.

At its regular meeting April 13, council approved a recommendation to separately meet with councils of the Town of High Prairie and Sucker Creek First Nation to discuss a regional water system.

“Maybe we need to meet with the town before we meet with the MLA,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

Council will meet with town council May 18 while a date with Sucker Creek has not been set, CAO Bill Kostiw says during a special meeting April 20 to discuss a plan for a regional water project.

A strategy was discussed in-camera with a recommendation scheduled to be presented at the regular council meeting April 27.

Council plans to further meet with Lesser Slave Lake MLA and Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee and Peace River Westlock MP Arnold Viersen to seek support for government funding.

“There is definitely a need for a regional water system that would be more productive and cost effective,” Kostiw states in a report to council at the regular meeting April 13.

Although he calculates that the county has ample water until 2018, the reeve says it’s vital to maintain those levels.

“Our water comes from the High Prairie plant and we have to make sure it’s sustainable,” Matthews says.

Estimated to cost a total of $92 million, the project would be more feasible and attractive to government funding in four phases and areas of the county, Kostiw says.

For the major zone centred in High Prairie, council would consider options to locate a raw water intake and a water treatment plant either in High Prairie, Joussard, or Sucker Creek and weather it would be an upgrade or new facilities, as presented by the county engineers M2 Engineering.

Kostiw says raw water is a major cost.

First Nations would be a vital component in the project, he adds.

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