Stormwater opposition not NIMBYism
I wondered when the phrase NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) would come up in relation to the controversy surrounding the plan by the Town of Blackfalds to divert its stormwater into Lacombe Lake.
It was a relief when Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol used it in a letter last week – suggesting that the opposition to the plan is based on NIMBYism – because now that can be refuted.
NIMBY is a convenient phrase to throw around, but in this case it completely misses the mark. Opposition to the plan is based on a sincere interest in protecting Lacombe Lake, a unique water body used for many recreational activities and inhabited by a significant variety of wildlife.
As indicated by opposition to the plan voiced by residents all over Central Alberta, the health of this water body is of interest to many who do not live near the lake but recognize what a valuable resource it is.
Mayor Stol is correct in noting rain that falls on the Town of Blackfalds is not toxic. However, that rain then washes across asphalt roofs, through fertilized lawns and down streets that certainly contain hydrocarbons, heavy metals and pesticides. It is admirable that the Blackfalds plan includes natural and man-made water bodies to filter out contaminants before the water arrives in Lacombe Lake, but there is no guarantee that contaminants will not enter the lake.
At a public meeting on the issue in June at the Lacombe County office, Blackfalds’ representatives made it clear that once the water leaves the Blackfalds system and enters Lacombe Lake, that water is no longer Blackfalds’ problem.
And just in case Mayor Stol thinks opposition to the plan is just some knee-jerk action that popped up overnight, be assured the stormwater plan is just one more bump on the road to protecting Lacombe Lake.
The Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Society (LLWSS) has been around for several years and includes lakeshore and greater Central Alberta residents as members. The society was formed as a result of several incidents at the north end of the lake when water from Whelp Brook was diverted into the lake. An environmental study commissioned and paid for by lakeshore residents showed a significant difference in the water quality between Whelp Brook and Lacombe Lake, and the large quantity of brook water caused significant damage to the lake that it is finally recovering from. For years LLWSS members have been volunteering to do water clarity and aquatic plant testing and are working with the Alberta Lake Management Society to establish water quality benchmarks and monitor the ongoing health of the lake, which fortunately is now very good.
That the threat now comes from the south, rather than the north does not change the fact that Lacombe Lake is too valuable to be put at risk.
In her letter Mayor Stol extolled the virtues of the City of Lacombe’s Cranna Lake, the Len Thompson Pond and Barnett Lake for providing a solution to Lacombe stormwater. Pumping its stormwater into a natural water body outside the community – as the Blackfalds plan proposes – does not sound like the equivalent to what the City of Lacombe has done.
We hope that alternatives to the plan will be sincerely examined so Lacombe lake can be preserved for future generations.
-Ted and Anto Davis, Red Deer