Ponoka couple receives provincial enforcement order

Draining a lake in Ponoka County has put a Ponoka couple in hot water with the Alberta government.

A map of the area contravened by Hendrick and Gerritje Krijger. The couple has received an executive order for work done in 2011 to bring the land back to its original state.

A map of the area contravened by Hendrick and Gerritje Krijger. The couple has received an executive order for work done in 2011 to bring the land back to its original state.

Draining a lake in Ponoka County has put a Ponoka couple in hot water with the Alberta government.

Hendrik and Gerritje Krijger performed unauthorized work on their property on a lake owned by the Crown that contravened the Water Act in October, 2011 and they must now restore the land to its original state.

The Krijgers must comply with the order by March, 2015, says Nikki Booth, communications advisor with the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD).

“Really, we focus on education and prevention and enforcement is definitely a tool that we have,” said Booth.

ESRD’s goal, however, is to work with individuals or companies before issuing an enforcement order. “We want to work with individuals and use that education and prevention piece.”

The order states that the Krijgers drained the lake, excavated an area near an outlet at the southwest edge of the lake and drained a smaller wetland. They need to immediately stop the work they are conducting and now restore the lake to its previous state, explained Booth.

The bed and the shore of the lake must also be returned to the original state and soil added to the southern portion of the lake must be removed. “And they must restore the wetland to the condition and function as it was before the construction of the manmade drainage.”

Much of the work conducted by the Krijgers was against the Water Act and Booth says the couple did not have permission from the province.

“Obviously when it comes to water bodies, we are pretty specific on the things that we allow and don’t allow. Because obviously they’re wetlands and they serve a function. They function for wildlife or maybe they function for a water source, there’s a number of different reasons,” explained Booth.

The Krijgers declined to comment to Ponoka News but comments to the Red Deer Advocate by Mrs. Krijger state they did not drain the lake.

She and her husband have been trying to resolve the issue with the province, she told the Red Deer Advocate.

“We’re still in conversations to see what to do.”

She said the lake was shallow and that it grew and shrank significantly depending on whether it is a wet or dry year.

“There’s nothing drained. The lake is still there and there’s lots of water.”

What drainage work was undertaken was done on their own land, not Crown land, she said.

“We would never, never dig in Crown land. We know to stay away from Crown land.”

An existing drainage channel was on the land, which is not used as their home quarter section, when they bought it, she added.

“I don’t know if the owner before made it, I have no idea.”