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MD confirms water in Crowsnest River despite media reports

MD confirms water in Crowsnest River despite media reports
While a water crisis exists in the MD of Pincher Creek, officials confirm the Crowsnest River HAS NOT RUN DRY.
While a water crisis exists in the MD of Pincher Creek, officials confirm the Crowsnest River HAS NOT RUN DRY.
IMAGE: Dave Cox
“The river certainly has not been dry at any point during this water crisis,” says David Desabrais with the MD of Pincher Creek, in response to recent reports by some media outlets that the Crowsnest River, the MD’s main water supply, has dried up.
IMAGE: Dave Cox
“The river certainly has not been dry at any point during this water crisis,” says David Desabrais with the MD of Pincher Creek, in response to recent reports by some media outlets that the Crowsnest River, the MD’s main water supply, has dried up.

MD confirms water in Crowsnest River despite media reports

By Dave Lueneberg
By Dave Lueneberg
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Shootin’ the Breeze Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 11, 2024
March 11, 2024

The Crowsnest River has not run dry, although councillors and staff with the Municipal District of Pincher Creek have kept busy in recent weeks refuting a number of media reports saying otherwise.

“Our [water] intakes are constructed right near where the Crowsnest River historically passes, which is at the bed of the Oldman Reservoir,” says the MD’s utilities and infrastructure supervisor, David Desabrais.

“The river certainly has not been dry at any point during this water crisis. We’ve been pulling water from the Crowsnest River daily since at least Jan. 2. So, certainly not a dry river.”

Last August, the MD made the decision to institute a Stage 2 water restriction. Days later, levels on the nearby Oldman River dropped to historical lows — the level falling below the two intake valves that would otherwise collect the water supply. At this point the restriction was increased to Stage 3.

As a stopgap measure, MD council decided to truck in water, through the late summer and fall, to keep taps running with the intakes unable to do their job. This came with a high price tag — nearly $1 million at last count.

In late December, with water still near its intake, a temporary pumping station was set up on the river north of Cowley to provide a lion’s share of the MD’s water source. It will be dismantled once expected water levels return to the Crowsnest River.

“We’re making about two-thirds of our volume right now through the pumping setup that’s essentially hanging over the edge of the river,” Desabrais says. “Every morning our third-party contractor goes in and if there’s any ice will break it up as required.”

Once lowered into the river, the submersible pump goes through a series of processes before eventually ending up in the existing plant.

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

“The water goes through a clarification/settling tank for minor treatment before we send it farther. It then goes through a filtering setup inside the nearby sea can,” Desabrais says.

“From there, it goes directly into our intake pipe, our existing piping and into our water treatment plant.”

Although far less than before, the remaining one-third or so of the water needed to keep tanks full at the plant is still being trucked in.

“We are still supplementing our levels every day with potable water,” he says. “There’s a few contractors in the town of Pincher Creek that have water hook-ups within their shops and they’re trucking out water directly to our plant every day to start in the morning.”

But Desabrais and the MD know the current situation is only temporary.

“We’ve looked at a ton of options for securing our long-term water needs,” Desabrais says.

“We’ve submitted all of our regulatory approvals for a project to build new infiltration structures that would be located sub-surface near our existing intakes, about 300 metres to the west on the bed of the Oldman Reservoir.”

If approved, two buildings would house a new framework of pipes, which Desabrais says would be hydraulically connected to the Crowsnest River underground and could still draw water during periods of drought.

“From there,” he says, “we would pump it up to our intake building, which is located about 700 metres to the southwest, which our existing intakes go to.”

While some permits for the proposed project have been granted, Desabrais says the MD is still waiting on seven others before work can begin.

Once all approvals are final, the hope is to break ground as early as the end of March.

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

Ad for Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek

 

The Crowsnest River has not run dry, although councillors and staff with the Municipal District of Pincher Creek have kept busy in recent weeks refuting a number of media reports saying otherwise.

“Our [water] intakes are constructed right near where the Crowsnest River historically passes, which is at the bed of the Oldman Reservoir,” says the MD’s utilities and infrastructure supervisor, David Desabrais.

“The river certainly has not been dry at any point during this water crisis. We’ve been pulling water from the Crowsnest River daily since at least Jan. 2. So, certainly not a dry river.”

Last August, the MD made the decision to institute a Stage 2 water restriction. Days later, levels on the nearby Oldman River dropped to historical lows — the level falling below the two intake valves that would otherwise collect the water supply. At this point the restriction was increased to Stage 3.

As a stopgap measure, MD council decided to truck in water, through the late summer and fall, to keep taps running with the intakes unable to do their job. This came with a high price tag — nearly $1 million at last count.

In late December, with water still near its intake, a temporary pumping station was set up on the river north of Cowley to provide a lion’s share of the MD’s water source. It will be dismantled once expected water levels return to the Crowsnest River.

“We’re making about two-thirds of our volume right now through the pumping setup that’s essentially hanging over the edge of the river,” Desabrais says. “Every morning our third-party contractor goes in and if there’s any ice will break it up as required.”

Once lowered into the river, the submersible pump goes through a series of processes before eventually ending up in the existing plant.

 

Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek

 

“The water goes through a clarification/settling tank for minor treatment before we send it farther. It then goes through a filtering setup inside the nearby sea can,” Desabrais says.

“From there, it goes directly into our intake pipe, our existing piping and into our water treatment plant.”

Although far less than before, the remaining one-third or so of the water needed to keep tanks full at the plant is still being trucked in.

“We are still supplementing our levels every day with potable water,” he says. “There’s a few contractors in the town of Pincher Creek that have water hook-ups within their shops and they’re trucking out water directly to our plant every day to start in the morning.”

But Desabrais and the MD know the current situation is only temporary.

“We’ve looked at a ton of options for securing our long-term water needs,” Desabrais says.

“We’ve submitted all of our regulatory approvals for a project to build new infiltration structures that would be located sub-surface near our existing intakes, about 300 metres to the west on the bed of the Oldman Reservoir.”

If approved, two buildings would house a new framework of pipes, which Desabrais says would be hydraulically connected to the Crowsnest River underground and could still draw water during periods of drought.

“From there,” he says, “we would pump it up to our intake building, which is located about 700 metres to the southwest, which our existing intakes go to.”

While some permits for the proposed project have been granted, Desabrais says the MD is still waiting on seven others before work can begin.

Once all approvals are final, the hope is to break ground as early as the end of March.

 

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

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