Calgary

Sylvan Lake wastewater crisis prompts appeal to conserve

Officials in Sylvan Lake say a recent sewage treatment problem in their community reflects the need for long-term infrastructure upgrades.

Town had to delay release of treated effluent from nearly full lagoons to meet federal fish protection rules

The town of Sylvan Lake is struggling to meet the federal requirements to release its treated effluent from its nearly full lagoons into Cygnet Creek. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Officials in Sylvan Lake say a recent sewage treatment problem in their community reflects the need for long-term infrastructure upgrades.

The central Alberta resort town was recently unable to conduct a scheduled release of treated effluent into Cygnet Creek because it failed new federal environmental standards to protect fish.

That meant the town's lagoons continued filling with rain and wastewater and were near capacity.

The situation prompted Mayor Sean McIntyre to put out an appeal.

Officials in Sylvan Lake say their wastewater crisis is symptomatic of the town's need for infrastructure upgrades. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

"We're asking everyone in our community to do everything they can to reduce their use of our wastewater system," he said.

With the lagoons nearly full, the effluent in one of them finally passed the test late last week, easing the problem.

McIntyre says the current wastewater system can still handle demand, but adds this incident and the new rules reinforce a regional long-term need for government infrastructure help.

"We know that some of our central Alberta neighbours are going through similar issues right now with their lagoons," he said.

Dave Brand, the town's director of public works, says some solutions are beyond local budgets.

"As we continue to grow, then we need to look at those situations like regional pipelines or packaged treatment systems, or mechanical treatment systems," he said.

Town officials say this is the first time they've faced this kind of crisis, they want to avoid a repeat.

The town says it's currently draining one of the lagoons and trucking some wastewater to a treatment facility in Red Deer.

But residents are still being asked reduce the amount of wastewater they produce.

Officials are still waiting for test results from the other lagoons.

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