Those expecting details on costs and blame for the water/wastewater state of emergency will have to wait. And the impact on the environment and to what extent more information will be made available to the public was equally muddy.
What we did learn from tonight's (Nov. 20) update to town council by CAO Mike Derricott is the town will initially cover the cost of the emergency, vaguely estimated to be between $400,000 and $700,000. Who will shoulder the costs continues to be investigated.
No matter where the blame falls, Derricott assured town council that the key parties involved have insurance and contractual protections in place to cover such mishaps and said he believes the town is in a positive position.
"It was a significant expenditure of resources that took place and the town will be using all of those tools that I mentioned to ensure that liability exists where it belongs and it won't have a direct impact on the taxpayer."
Derricott said the highest priority was given to stop the flow of wastewater into the Bow River and it was accomplished within about the first 36 hours. Alberta Environment was also notified as quickly as possible and its officials were on site, observing and advising on best practices at the time of the emergency and providing advice on how to remediate the area impacted.
"Not being a technician in the environmental sense, I probably won't say too much about it other than to say that there is a relatively limited risk for this type of environmental incident. They do happen. Affluent does make its way into places it's not supposed to be, but the risk to humans in terms of interacting with that site is relatively minimal and the remediation of those spaces is actually quite minimal in terms of what's required by Alberta Environment."
Councillor Tara McFadden pressed the hardest to get details on questions she has received from residents.
"The biggest question I always got was very blunt. Was like, how much is this costing us, which you've answered, who's paying for it, who's at fault and it better not be me. And some of them are even more blunt than that."
He confirmed the emergency has had no financial implication on the 2024 budget being debated by town council.
Derricott said not to expect a broad public sharing of information.
"Obviously, there are still a few processes council will be kept apprised directly of the implications of the investigation, et cetera, which will likely trigger some conversation publicly. We just don't have a timeline on when that be."
Derricott recounted the order of events, which had previously been well documented.
Work has resumed on the project and is expected to be completed in spring 2024.