By J.W. Schnarr
Water levels at Yellow Lake, located east and south of Taber, are a concern and in order to deal with those levels, St. Mary’s River Irrigation District is requesting some financial help from the Municipal District of Taber and the County of Forty Mile.
During its regular meeting on Sept. 23, M.D. council discussed a letter from SMRID requesting the M.D. move quickly to support the pumping project, which SMRID hoped would be funded 40 per cent from both the county and the M.D., and 20 per cent coming from SMRID.
According to a letter from Tom Crooks, SMRID general manager, response time was of the essence. But SMRID could not predict the price of pumping beforehand and seemed to essentially be asking for a blank cheque from the M.D. and the county.
“There is certainly some concern about the level Yellow Lake is at right now,” said Reeve Brian Brewin. “In the past, this has flooded out on us, and has taken all the gravel roads from 877 to the highway. Everyone starts having to go around (the flooded areas) which affects our gravel roads.”
“It’s something we need to deal with on a larger scale,” he added.
“Maybe we can sit down with SMRID and come up with a bit of an agreement on this. This is a short-term deal. Pay a little bit now to avoid a lot later, is how I see it.”
Brewin said the issue comes up every time there is a large rainfall, and that county administration had already agreed to put $20,000 toward the cost of pumping the lake, something he said he was in support of the M.D. doing as well.
“My recommendation would be to follow suit with what the county did,” he said. “But I also think we need to set up a committee to find a long-term solution.”
Division 4 Coun. Ben Elfring said while he agreed something needed to be done, he asked if entering into this agreement might not have other irrigation districts coming forward with cost sharing projects of their own.
‘I think that’s why we put this as a one-term thing,” replied Brewin.
“It should go through forty mile so it’s not setting a precedent,” said Division 5 Coun. Bob Wallace.
Following first reading, it was noted Brewin and Tolton should represent the M.D. in the event a committee is formed to discuss this issue further. Council then passed third and final reading, with Wallace abstaining due to conflict.
During the afternoon portion of council’s Sept. 23 meeting, council received word from SMRID that the proposed cost-sharing project amounting to $60,000, or $20,000 from each of the three parties involved, would amount to 20 days of pumping from Yellow Lake, but were uncertain how much that would lower the lake.
SMRID requested that the $20,000 be used as a guide, and money not used would be up to the discretion of the M.D. whether to take back or whether to continue pumping. In the event the costs ran over, however, SMRID requested the three-way split be continued to cover any additional costs.
Council then decided they would not go over the agreed on amount of $20,000.