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Water woes continue for Gull Lake

Ponoka County looking into dredging boat launches
AEP minister and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon (left) and former Premier Jason Kenney (right) look on as volunteers from the Gull Lake Watershed Society set up to pump water through one of their test filters on the Blindman River near Bentley. (File photo/submitted)

NOTE: This story has been edited since it was first posted to correct an error regarding the Bluffton landfill.

The water level issue at Gull Lake is looking bleak and Ponoka County council discussed possible solutions during their regular meeting on Jan. 9.

County administration and Reeve Paul McLauchlin recently met with the Gull Lake Watershed Society.

The group believes the lake will not recharge on its own in the foreseeable future.

They were discouraged from drilling into the Paskapoo Formation for recreation purposes as that water would be needed for domestic and livestock use.

The decreasing water level at the lake has been a concern for years. The society hasn’t been able to pump water from the Blindman River into the lake since 2018, since Prussian Carp eggs were found in the river.

The society was hoping to either be allowed to use a filtration system to remove the eggs of the invasive fish specie, or create a new well from the Haynes Aquifer located within the Paskapoo Formation, or both.

However, any actions taken have to be approved by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas.

READ MORE: Gull Lake Watershed Society hopes increasing membership will push government to address dropping water levels

The county is looking into necessary approvals for dredging the boat launches (removing silt and sediment) to ensure they are usable.

Provincial drought committee

McLauchlin has been appointed to the provincial drought committee. He expressed concern there may not be any irrigation this year due to lack of water.

Elkhorn Road pavement overlay

Coun. Doug Weir suggested Elkhorn Road could have received a pavement overlay with the taxes owed by defunct oil companies. This information would be presented to the minister of energy and minerals at the next convention.

Ponoka FCSS

Council heard Ponoka Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is working to ensure the health care contract for Wetaskiwin is managed properly.

FCM activities

McLauchlin advised the directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are combining as a unit to ensure rural municipalities are heard by the federal government.

Energy regulators

McLauchlin expressed concern the energy regulator allegedly “knowingly allows oil and gas companies to continue operating when they haven’t kept their financial obligations to municipalities or landowners,” stated the agenda minutes.

Tire liability

The $590,000 recorded liability from the tires on county land can now be removed as the site is cleaned up and the land has been sold with payment pending land titles registration.

National Tire Recycling was making payments on the amount owed to the county.

Year-end development report

Council discussed the number of vacant subdivisions in the county and the effect on taxation.

Chief administrative officer Peter Hall advised there are currently 3,579 registered acreage lots in Ponoka County, with 575 undeveloped.

Bluffton landfill

Council discussed the need to consider future liability and legal obligations under the Municipal Government Act regarding landfills, asbestos, etcetera.

The county allots funding annually into a a post-closure liability reserve, and therefore determined there was no need to consider further liability for the landfill.

The county anticipates the landfill will continue in operation for plus/minus 100 years.

Rimbey FCSS

Misty Griffiths is the new executive director for Rimbey FCSS.