Landowner fed up with floods, smells

By Geoff Lee

June 7, 2016 5:00 AM

Lloydminster area land owners Steve and Vera Denecky who live in Lethbridge are seeking answers about the frequent flooding of their land along the 12 mile stormwater channel of the Nealy Lake System. They say the water also smells bad from time to time.

A husband and wife said they’re fed up with the frequent flooding and smelly water on some farmland they own along a portion of a 12 mile storm water channel, and they want something done about it.
Steve and Vera Denecky, of Lethbridge, own 240 acres just north of Hwy. 303 on Range Road 3274 where the channel runs through a culvert on the way to the North Saskatchewan River.
“Flooding occurs in the spring time and when there’s heavy rain,” said Vera during a site inspection last Monday.
“It’s flooded today,” added Steve.
“There’s been pools of water all the way down the next half mile or so to down to the end of the property.”
The Deneckys say the damming of water downstream has the effect of water backing up their the culverts under the road.
“It’s flooded us instead of staying in the channel,” Vera said pointing to the problem area.
She also said 13 other people who live along the channel aren’t going to sign a new easement with the city until they do something about the channel.
“It’s still flooding,” she said.
Vera said back in the early 1980s when Ducks Unlimited got involved with the channel they had 27.8 acres of wetland that has grown to over 56 today from flooding.
Ducks Unlimited built series of stop-log control structures, road culverts and channels to control water levels and promote waterfowl habitat.
The Deneckys had two 10 year leases with Ducks Unlimited to plant grassland on their land to create nesting habitat for ducks.
“The ducks wouldn’t nest there because of the smell,” said Vera.
The Deneckys want to plow up the grassland once it dries out.
Vera said another issue occurred when the city had big winter storms in 2003, they put all the snow that came off the street and they put it in what she calls the “nuisance” ground.
“Eventually the water melted and it went down our system and it flooded a lot of the land,” she said adding it’s become alkaline over the years.
The Deneckys claim they reached an out of court settlement last week with a variety of stakeholders including the city of Lloydminster and Ducks Unlimited, but didn’t provide the Source with a copy of the agreement.
“They (city) promised to deepen the channel and we can sue them again if they flood our land from here on in,” she said.
Alan Cayford, the city’s director of public works said any plans to deepen the channel on the Denecky’s land would be a job for the city’s engineering department.
“We look after the structure after its built so whether there’s any engineering plans for a change in that channel I can’t answer,” he said about his department.
“The structures that are close to the city, the city maintains and Ducks Unlimited no longer does that.”
Cayford added he knows the city looks after some of the culvert structures that Ducks Unlimited had put in the channel.
“As it gets farther away from the city, I am not familiar with that,” he said.
The Deneckys said they want to know when the improvement work would begin.
“They haven’t set a date when they are going to start,” said Vera.
She went on to say Ducks Unlimited and the city allowed that “effluent” to go down that channel.
“So it’s a long history of Ducks Unlimited and flooding and the city of Lloydminster,” said Vera.
The Deneckys also wonder if the city will keep the water that’s flooding their land clean once it builds a new waste water treatment facility, believing the city has been sending pollutants into the channel.
“Is it going to be clean water going down there because it smells terrible,?” asked Vera.
“It smells bad every now and then, then they clean out their tanks or something.”
Cayford thinks the Deneckys are confusing the city’s wastewater and storm water systems.
“The wastewater and storm water system are two different things,” he said.
“The sewage goes to the sewage treatment plant and gets treated and the storm water just passes through the city and goes out on the Neale Edmunds Complex on that 12 mile channel and goes to the Big Gully and into the river.”
He said even if there were no residential development in the city, the storm water would go that way naturally.
Any smell said Cayford especially during summer might be stagnant rainwater and runoff water that feeds into the channel from the city’s storm water system.
He said absolutely no wastewater effluent gets into the storm water channel.
According to study of the city’s storm water system by Urban Systems in 2012, treated effluent from the city’s old sewage lagoon in the early 80s was being discharged in the Neale Lake system.
“The design standard has changed today so the storm water and sanitary are separated,” said Cayford.
Cayford said more runoff does go through the channel when it rains via the city’s storm water ponds, and underground and open runoff channels.
The direction of drainage in the city is from southwest to northwest with some rainwater from the County of Vermilion River added to the system.
Cayford said the city does dump snow on the north side of the land for commercial uses and south side for the city which eventually melts into the Nealy Lake System.
“What what I can tell you is anything that melts off the street or snow that we haul somewhere, when it melts, it absolutely ends up in the storm water,” said Cayford.
“It doesn’t matter if it melts off the street, if we put it in a pile if it melts within the city, it’s going to go in the storm water system.”
The Deneckys said they will not be compensated from the loss of farmable land from flooding,
“That’s the part that we lost,” said Vera referring to their settlement.
“They said we can’t actually prove who flooded us out—it could be Ducks Unlimited; it could be the neighbours.”

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