A packed house in council chambers and almost a thousand viewers on YouTube checked out last week's biodigester meeting hosted by Foothills County Council.

Reeve Delilah Miller believes people are much better informed about what's involved.

"We had lots of positive feedback from many residents thanking us for having Tidewater there to answer some of their questions and concerns and I think going through the presentation helped a lot," Miller says. "I think overall people were pleased to have that information."

She says it was a lot of good information and hopefully it addressed some people's concerns about water usage, flooding and bringing in external manure, which Tidewater says is not in their plans. 

Organic matter will be pre-processed and ground into a slurry with water injected and it'll be brought into the facility in closed tanker trucks and then put in the digester through hoses, so it's all contained.

Numerous officials for Tidewater Renewable's took part in the session over zoom, including one from Germany.

Miller believes the presentation may have helped make people better informed about what the operation entails.

"With any new venture it's hard for anyone, residents of the area, both High River and the County to put their trust in the various levels of government to oversee this project and do their due diligence to make sure it's safe and it'll perform the way it's intended. It's a complex process and it's hard to understand all the government levels involved. People are still thinking Foothills County approved this facility, we did not, we have no approving authority on the biodigester, the only areas that we have authority on are the roads, the site clearing, drainage and lighting."

She says there's a huge misunderstanding that by waving a development permit the county has given Tidewater approval, but Miller explains that's not the case.

It still has to go through the Natural Resources Conservation board and Alberta Environment through the Environmental protection and Enhancement Act.

Among the concerns they expressed was the smell from the feedlot which they say will decrease by 42 per cent with the biodigester.

"If the biodigester is stopped, it doesn't stop Rimrock from their operations so the smells will continue and the only avenue of complaint will be the NRCB and Alberta Environment," Miller says.

It's expected the provincial bodies could make a decision this spring.

Miller says if it's approved with conditions Foothills County will have to enact that with those conditions.

She urges anyone with concerns or questions to contact those provincial bodies.