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Ponoka County council meets with Lloyd Creek residents over fracking

Council discusses industrial versus agricultural water usage
(Stock image/Metro Creative Connection)

During his report to Ponoka County council on May 14, chief administrative officer Peter Hall advised administration had met with a group of landowners from the Lloyd Creek area regarding fracking. 

Baytex Energy had done some fracking using water from the Jones gravel pit, according to the meeting minutes. 

Baytex had created a 27-acre water holding facility in the area, licensed by the province.

The Leedale Hutterite Colony in Rimbey had applied for an agricultural dug-out so they would not be allowed to access county right of ways for industrial uses such as fracking. The county was not able to limit water usage.

The county had suggested they use effluent water and some was occurring.

It was noted that questions posed should be sent to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and Alberta Environment and Parks as the county is not the approving authority.

The County is not selling access to its Anderson gravel pit for fracking this year, the minutes read.

Reeve Paul McLauchlin has been appointed to the minister’s Water Advisory Committee.

The fundamental concern with industrial usage is about water leaving the water cycle, versus agricultural use where the water remains in the cycle, it was stated.

As industry is using off-site storage however, evaporation is an issue they are encountering.

Smaller streams are not monitored all that well for diversion licenses, McLauchlin explained.

He said although the province of Alberta is "well educated and well trained, much of the onerous reporting was still paper-based so very hard to track and monitor."

Currently, Alberta is in a 1-50 year subsystem drought. Industry is the second largest user of water.

Agricultural and municipal water use goes back into the cycle. Industrial injection projects do not.

McLauchlin said he would attempt to get the answers to the questions posed by the delegation in its recent letter.

Administration advised that industry should be looking for alternatives for their injection projects, rather than using fresh water.

Assar Grinde assured council they didn't oppose industry but needed to protect their agricultural operations. He suggested that temporary diversion licenses should be permanent licenses so that they can be accounted for in the future.

Dan Iseli-Otto expressed concern with the government bureaucracy surrounding water use and regulation of the use.

It was noted the county will continue to support the farming community’s need for water.