The Town of Sylvan Lake isn’t just home to more than 12,000 people, and lots more in the summer, it operates the sewage treatment facility for the watershed. Tour it here.
In addition to processing sewage from the TSL, Norglenwold and Jarvis Bay that are directly connected to the treatment facility by pipeline network, the more remote urbanized areas including Birchcliff, Sunbreaker Cove and Lacombe County have the option of trucking holding tank waste to the SLRWC septage transfer station which is also connected to the TSL sewage lagoons by cross-country pipeline.
Intermunicipal cooperation on sewage collection and processing is admirable as reliance on old-time septic fields and related seepage of nutrient-rich and bacterially-contaminated effluent into Sylvan Lake are reduced . The video shows the sewage pond steps in processing the waste stream that arrives on the east side of the TSL. Treated water from the final pond is periodically pumped into the Outlet Creek flow and transferred to the Red Deer River through Cygnet Lake.
The politics of watershed wastewater treatment are handled by a secret society, the Sylvan Lake Regional Wastewater Commission (SLRWC) on which sit representatives of all the local municipalities. It was established by an Alberta government order in council in 2008. Neither agendas nor minutes of meetings are published for public information. As the Commission has power to commit taxpayers to major capital investments in infrastructure projects that would affect the watershed its business affairs and output should be at least as visible as that of the sewage lagoons.