Some well owners in Langdon were left frustrated this spring and summer after a development project in the community may have inadvertently impacted their access to water.
According to a post in the Langdon community Facebook group, several households on the west side of the hamlet were not able to pump water from their wells in mid-to-late June. The many commenters on the post hypothesized what could have led to the reduced water supply.
A resident of west Langdon, who asked the Rocky View Weekly to remain anonymous, said he discovered his well was not pumping any water when he returned home following a vacation in late June. He said his neighbours experienced the same issue.
James Jorgensen, an environmental protection officer and compliance assurance team lead for Alberta Environment and Parks, said the issue appears to have stemmed from construction of the Painted Sky development – a Qualico Communities subdivision that is currently being built on the west side of the hamlet. As part of construction for the new community, Jorgensen said crews dug a large storm drainage pond, and were pumping water from the aquifer in order to install a liner for the pond.
According to Jorgensen, the pumping may have cut into the local water table.
“The water table in those water wells dropped when [crews] started pumping, so some people have pumps in those wells [and] the water table fell below the level the pumps were hanging at,” he explained.
For residents whose well pumps were suddenly above the water table line, Jorgensen said they were able to lower their pumps to mitigate the situation. However, other households have had to have water brought in or get their water from temporary systems set up on their properties.
“I would say the households along Cowan Street, they all have water right now, but some of that is hauled in, temporary water until the water table recovers,” he said on Aug. 11.
“There are no homes without water right now – they all have water, whether it's from their wells or if it's hauled in.”
According to Jorgensen, Alberta's Water Act does not permit construction projects to impact household water access, so Alberta Environment and Parks issued a temporary stop-work order on the developer’s pumping for 10 days, which allowed the water table to recover temporarily.
“The water started to recover and then they had to finish those ponds off, so they tried pumping again, so the water table dropped off,” he said. “I shut them down again and [said there would be] no more pumping until we can figure out how they're going to proceed without impacts to the neighbouring water wells.
“In the meantime, the hope is the water in the water table will recover and start to come back up again – that's kind of where we're at right now.”
In a statement, Qualico Communities acknowledged it had been approached by some Langdon residents in the area, who expressed issues about their loss of well water access.
“At this time, we have been in communication with those who are having issues with their water wells and have also been in continual contact with Alberta Environment, who regulates and monitors all water well-related issues in the province,” the statement reads. “Alberta Environment has been unable to confirm the cause of the issues, however, we are continuing to communicate with the residents and Alberta Environment on this issue.”
Qualico's statement went on to say if Langdonites require more information regarding existing water wells, to contact Alberta Environment directly at bit.ly/3CEzV1b
While the construction may have been what ultimately caused the issue, Jorgensen said he could not confirm if that was the only reason for Langdon residents’ water shortages. He said dry and hot conditions in the region this summer have also contributed to a lower water table.
“I'm not a hydro-geologist or a groundwater specialist – I'm a compliance guy – but there seems to be a correlation that when they pump, the water drops,” he said.
Rocky View County issued a statement about the issue to the Rocky View Weekly on Aug. 11, saying the County is aware of the situation, but that groundwater falls under the purview of Alberta Environment and Parks.
“We will wait to receive further information from the department if applicable, and will follow their direction if required,” the statement reads.
Jorgensen said it is still an ongoing situation.
“There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on to try and manage this to make sure in the short term, that everyone has water, and that in the long term, to make sure the wells recover,” he said.