Boyle-Wandering River water pipeline route selected

Athabasca Advocate -Nov 16, 2010 06:00 am | Fram Dinshaw
Athabasca County chose a tentative route for the Aspen Regional Water System pipeline extension that will run from Boyle, up the Highway 63 Corridor to Wandering River, after meeting with engineers and Alberta Transportation officials in Edmonton on Nov. 10.

The proposed $28 million pipeline is an extension of the existing network that runs between Athabasca, Colinton and Boyle, which county Reeve David Yurdiga said must be built before Highway 63 is widened to freeway standard, as road construction will run right through the existing water treatment plant in Wandering River.

The county will ratify a final decision on construction and the proposed pipeline route at their meeting on Nov. 25, but Yurdiga said it was imperative that the waterline was installed before the old water treatment plant serving Wandering River is demolished.

“We’ll complete it probably in the fall of 2012, but we’re going to start construction in the spring,” Yurdiga said.

Yurdiga explained that Wandering River pipeline was being fast-tracked and 90 per cent funded by Alberta Transportation due to Highway 63’s widening, while a proposed second waterline extension connecting Athabasca with Rochester and Baptiste Lake is on a waiting list with no final decision yet reached.

The Baptiste Lake pipeline, if built, would be under the provincial Water For Life scheme and totally separate from the Highway 63 project.

The engineering studies recommended that the pipeline route from Boyle to Wandering River cut through public land parallel to roads in order to minimize both its environmental impact and conflicts with farmers.

“Some areas are full of muskeg,” said Yurdiga of the environmental considerations.

County councillor Jack Dowhaluk, who represents the Wandering River area, welcomed the pipeline as he said it would attract light industry and new businesses, which would boost Wandering River’s current population of just 80 people.

“I can see in 10 years time we will become one of the major hamlets in the county,” said Dowhaluk.

With oil sands development spreading south down a soon-to be widened Highway 63 from Fort McMurray and the pipeline coming north from Athabasca, Wandering River will benefit from both improved infrastructure and more job opportunities, as Dowhaluk said many companies are interested in the hamlet’s economic potential.

“With water here, I can see development happening very soon.”