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Water Act approvals facing slowdowns

Posted on September 3, 2015 by Vauxhall Advance

By J.W. Schnarr
Vauxhall Advance

Drainage issues in the Municipal District of Taber continue to be an issue within the area. That was the crux of an update from Jack Dunsmore, director of planning and infrastructure, during M.D. council’s regular meeting on Aug. 25. Dunsmore was providing a monthly department update to council at the time.

Dunsmore said he had sent an email to the ministry of Alberta Environment and Parks after he said he received a number of complaints from local residents regarding the length of time it takes AEP to respond to questions, concerns, and requests posed by landowners, particularly when it comes to water approvals.

“There’s a lot of calls coming in about their process, and the time it takes,” he said.

He added some work has been done with local irrigation districts to allow landowners to drain from their tile drains to the irrigation systems.

“Those two approvals are getting done fairly quickly, but the third approval – which is the Water Act approval – is fairly slow,” said Dunsmore.

Reeve Brian Brewin said there is a large amount of tile drainage in the M.D.

“You can guess where that’s all going to end up,” he said.

Dunsmore said in an effort to help with the delays, he has been relaxing some aspects of enforcement for landowners waiting to hear back from AEP.

“If they’ve got irrigation approval, and they’ve got our approval, I’m not going to report them,” Dunsmore said. “If they are draining into our borrow pit, where it’s not running anywhere, I’m going to report them – or if they are doing some drainage and flood other people out, then I will report them.”

He emphasized landowners still need to make the effort to make sure all of their approvals are in place.

“Our approval says they must get Alberta Water Act approvals,” he said. “It will be up to them to get that.”

“I don’t think it’s fair to our landowners if the process is taking too long,” he added.

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