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MD creates makeshift solution for water supply

MD creates makeshift solution for water supply
The MD has set up a pumping station at the site of its water intake valves on the Crowsnest River, north of Cowley.
The MD has set up a pumping station at the site of its water intake valves on the Crowsnest River, north of Cowley.
IMAGE: MD of Pincher Creek
In an effort to significantly reduce the cost of trucking water to its reservoirs, the MD of Pincher Creek has established a temporary pumping station near its existing water intake valves on the Crowsnest River, north of Cowley.
IMAGE: MD of Pincher Creek
In an effort to significantly reduce the cost of trucking water to its reservoirs, the MD of Pincher Creek has established a temporary pumping station near its existing water intake valves on the Crowsnest River, north of Cowley.

MD creates makeshift solution for water supply

By Dave Lueneberg
By Dave Lueneberg
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Shootin’ the Breeze Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
January 24, 2024
January 24, 2024

After a summer and fall where its water needed to be trucked in to keep the taps flowing, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek has created a temporary solution it hopes will get it through the winter and, possibly, into the spring.

The MD has set up a pumping station at the site of its water intake valves on the Crowsnest River, north of Cowley.

“It’s actually pumping water to one of our existing intake pipes,” explained Reeve Dave Cox.

“It’s not a big system. The intake pipes are about six inches in diameter and the system that pumps into one of those pipes is about 2½ inches in diameter.”

Utilities and infrastructure manager David Desabrais confirmed siphoning is carried out only during the daytime right now.

“We don’t have any raw water storage. All of our storage is on the treated water side,” he said. “Every day our goal is essentially, during working hours, to top up all of our rural water reservoirs before night.”

The process is then repeated the next day. Depending on demand by MD residents, water trucks may still need to be used to keep the reservoirs full.

In a perfect world, the idea might be a potential long-term fix, but it can’t be because of the system’s location on the river.

The pumping station “will definitely need to come out in the spring,” Cox emphasized. “It’s kind of inside the floodplain of the dam. It’s only there until we start to get high water.”

 

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The question remains, though, will we see a significant spring melt from mountain snow packs and, if not, can the pump station stay in place a little longer? The answer is yes.

But, “because it’s such a historic event, it’s tough to say, for sure, when [a rise in river levels] might occur,” Desabrais acknowledged.

“Typically, the reservoir doesn’t do its big fill until June, so that’s what we’re anticipating,” he said. “You never know. It could get messy down there earlier or there could also be a case where we get a terrible snowpack and we’d be in a position to continue using that setup further into the summer.”

“This is really a band-aid, for lack of a better word, to cut down on what it costs us to truck water,” Reeve Cox added.

“This is a way cheaper solution than what we were doing when it was all trucking. The trucking hasn’t been totally eliminated because there’s still some issues with water turbidity, and so we still have to augment the system with trucking.”

Is there a potential long-term fix? The answer to that is also yes.

“We’re working towards looking at a third intake near the existing two intakes,” Desabrais said. “They would, essentially, be tapped into the Crowsnest River aquifer. We wouldn’t actually be boring under the river, but connected hydraulically.”

The aquifer, which Desabrais pointed out isn’t a new source, is located just upstream from the current water intake valves and near where the old highway bridge was constructed.

He said if everything, including council and regulatory approval, falls into place, work could begin soon.

 

Ad for Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

After a summer and fall where its water needed to be trucked in to keep the taps flowing, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek has created a temporary solution it hopes will get it through the winter and, possibly, into the spring.

The MD has set up a pumping station at the site of its water intake valves on the Crowsnest River, north of Cowley.

“It’s actually pumping water to one of our existing intake pipes,” explained Reeve Dave Cox.

“It’s not a big system. The intake pipes are about six inches in diameter and the system that pumps into one of those pipes is about 2½ inches in diameter.”

Utilities and infrastructure manager David Desabrais confirmed siphoning is carried out only during the daytime right now.

“We don’t have any raw water storage. All of our storage is on the treated water side,” he said. “Every day our goal is essentially, during working hours, to top up all of our rural water reservoirs before night.”

The process is then repeated the next day. Depending on demand by MD residents, water trucks may still need to be used to keep the reservoirs full.

In a perfect world, the idea might be a potential long-term fix, but it can’t be because of the system’s location on the river.

The pumping station “will definitely need to come out in the spring,” Cox emphasized. “It’s kind of inside the floodplain of the dam. It’s only there until we start to get high water.”

 

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

 

The question remains, though, will we see a significant spring melt from mountain snow packs and, if not, can the pump station stay in place a little longer? The answer is yes.

But, “because it’s such a historic event, it’s tough to say, for sure, when [a rise in river levels] might occur,” Desabrais acknowledged.

“Typically, the reservoir doesn’t do its big fill until June, so that’s what we’re anticipating,” he said. “You never know. It could get messy down there earlier or there could also be a case where we get a terrible snowpack and we’d be in a position to continue using that setup further into the summer.”

“This is really a band-aid, for lack of a better word, to cut down on what it costs us to truck water,” Reeve Cox added.

“This is a way cheaper solution than what we were doing when it was all trucking. The trucking hasn’t been totally eliminated because there’s still some issues with water turbidity, and so we still have to augment the system with trucking.”

Is there a potential long-term fix? The answer to that is also yes.

“We’re working towards looking at a third intake near the existing two intakes,” Desabrais said. “They would, essentially, be tapped into the Crowsnest River aquifer. We wouldn’t actually be boring under the river, but connected hydraulically.”

The aquifer, which Desabrais pointed out isn’t a new source, is located just upstream from the current water intake valves and near where the old highway bridge was constructed.

He said if everything, including council and regulatory approval, falls into place, work could begin soon.

 

 

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