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Ponoka County council assures fracking not overusing fresh water

April 23 council meeting briefs

During Ponoka County council's last regular council meeting on April 23, Coun. Doug Weir said he'd fielded calls from people concerned about excessive water usage during fracking operations.

Chief administrative officer Peter Hall said of the 400,000 cubic metres approved for use by Baytex Energy, only about 80,000 to 100,000 cubic metres of fresh water would be used. The rest of the water used would be wastewater from the Town of Rimbey and Winfield lagoons. 

Two large dug outs were being created - one by the Leedale Hutterite Colony and the other by Baytex.

Coun. Bryce Liddle advised the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) had confirmed that although water usage licenses were plentiful, usage was not. He said the AER can issue water diversion licenses without consulting the Ministry of Environment and Protected Areas (AEP).

Administration suggested council forward calls regarding water usage to AEP for their response.

Public Works report

Public Works Superintendent Blaine Rose updated council on the activities of his department. 

He advised brushing was complete in preparation for construction of Township Road 424 after the May long weekend.

A good portion of the chip-seal roads were breaking up this year, Rose said. Subdivision repairs would be re-considered following the spring break-up. 

The gravelling program would start May 21and patch gravelling was already underway.

The used graders still had not sold through consignment with Finning. 

The low level crossing was still in good condition. The bridge on the Lockhart Road was deemed to be the first priority for Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) funding. 

Approval for dredging at the county’s boat launches had been submitted as the required consultation with First Nations was deemed complete. The application submitted was for 25 years.

Rimbey Community Home Help Services

Misty Griffiths, executive director of Rimbey Community Home Help Services, gave an overview to council about the organization during the meeting. 

She explained their structure and funding model, advising that the organization was the the non-profit umbrella for health care, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and the Rimbey Food Bank.

The health care branch of the organization is funded through Alberta Health Services and includes home care, home support and adult day support.

FCSS is funded 10 per cent by the county and includes Meals on Wheels, home support and more.

The food bank is funded by donations and government grant funding. It recently moved to a new location run by volunteers.

Griffiths said the extra funds received from the health care component are redirected to FCSS programs and employees.

The food bank is fairly well stocked at the present time, she said. They were working to re-brand the service for greater exposure and understanding.