SLWSS Statement on the West Area Structure Plan

This statement presents the opinion of the Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society on the West Area Structure Plan of the Town of Sylvan Lake.

West Area Structure Plan 2016

We regard Section 8.4. Stormwater Management Plan to be a threat to the water quality of Sylvan Lake because of the Two Laws of the Watershed:

  1. Water flows downhill
  2. Stuff from the land ends up in the lake.

According to Alberta Environment and Parks land runoff coefficient data[1], urbanization of agricultural land will increase the concentration of contaminants in surface runoff water from diffuse and point sources. Nutrient concentrations in Golf Course creek, the principle tributary that drains the West Area, already exceed water quality guidelines for recreational use[2]. West Area Structure Plan development will further degrade tributary and municipal flow-path water quality that is discharged into Sylvan Lake. In particular, loading of the lake with plant nutrients will increase causing an enhanced risk of eutrophication and algal blooms.

We recommend that state of the art water quality technology[3] be applied to continuously monitor water quality of all surface and groundwater flows that enter Sylvan Lake from the West Area Structure Plan land area as one part of a due diligence program to protect the lake and the interests of private property owners. The alteration of the water balance by West Area development will have impacts on public liabilities that are not foreseen by the area structure plan.

Sylvan Lake watershed private property with a current assessed value of $2.7 billion depends on the water quality of Sylvan Lake. The West Area Structure Plan requires a risk management process and a visible, publicized due diligence program to protect the Town of Sylvan Lake, the water quality of Sylvan Lake, and taxpayers from the potential liability of eutrophication[4]. A public commitment to water quality monitoring and public reporting is also a fundamental component of best stewardship practice.

[1] SLWSS Report: The Sylvan Lake Watershed – Second Edition. Figure 20.

[2] SLWSS Report: Golf Course Creek Project 2014

[3] SLWSS Report: Introduction to Lake Water Quality Monitoring

[4] SLWSS Report: The Sylvan Lake Eutrophication Penalty

The statement was read into the record of the Public Hearing by Senior Planner Calvin Symington and copies were provided to Councillors.

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