Great strides have been made in discussions surrounding the creation of a collaborative sub-regional wastewater serving strategy involving Rocky View County, Cochrane, Calgary and the Harmony Advanced Water Systems Corporation (HAWSCO).

This week, Rocky View County (RVC) council agreed to continue discussions on the Cochrane and Springbank sub-regional wastewater servicing concept.

The catalyst for these discussions was the need for Cochrane and Rocky View County to support growth through effective and fiscally sustainable wastewater servicing and HAWSCO's need to increase its capacity for treated effluent disposal through a sub-regional system.

Ricks Deans, utility services strategist, and Ben Manshanden, intergovernmental strategist, told council  the working group has selected its preferred option.

Wastewater mapThe working groups preferred option. (map/RVC)

It has also received Calgary council approval in principle to provide wastewater servicing to Harmony, Springbank Airport and Bingham Crossing, subject to negotiating of a master service agreement (MSI).

At this point, however, the city was unwilling to consider expanding the intermunicipal wastewater servicing to Cochrane Lakes beyond the existing 48 litres per second (L/s) arrangement.

This raised a red flag for Councillor Greg Boehlke, who was concerned it would limit growth within west RVC. He was assured projected growth for the next 20 to 30 years has been accommodate.

"It's really a progressive step forward on regional collaboration of servicing," Bryan Riemann, RVC executive director of operations, assured council. "So, as we continue to move forward it's going to give us more opportunities to have those conversations."

He said the existing arrangement allows for the servicing of about 4,500 homes in the Cochrane Lake area and there are currently about 250 homes being serviced.

"We do have quite a lot of growth opportunity within that 48 L/s, but again, I don't want to overlook the benefit, which is this regional collaboration opportunity that we are now with three parties moving forward and even from that regional collaboration side of things, now we are talking regional servicing, which opens up different grant opportunities at the same time."

The working group saw no need to create a separate municipally-owned corporation because each partner has their own governance in place.

A grant has covered the work completed to date and no additional funds are required at this point, nor does it anticipate participation in capital investment.

Should it proceed, it's estimated to have a capital cost of $200.4 million over the next 30 years. RVC believes both Cochrane and HAWSCO are the primary benefactors of the proposed project and views its role to be that of a faciliator providing jurisdictional approvals and supporting the pursuit of provincial grants to defray the cost of the system.

The feasibility studies examining options and governance began in 2023.