City officials watching potential flooding risks

  • Mar. 19, 2014 8:07 p.m.

City officials are monitoring local flooding around Red Deer and are preparing for possible flooding during the spring runoff.

“I said even in the throws of the snow and ice control debate when we had the back to back snow storms that we needed to be looking further down the line because if this is our snow volume this year, obviously spring melt will be very different for us and it’s better for us to have a plan on the front end as opposed to being reactive,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

“We’ll hope for the best but we’ll be prepared if the worst happens. When extreme conditions or emergency situations are upon us, we need to respond swiftly and decisively. My preference is to look ahead and anticipate emerging issues before they become critical issues. I think when it comes to flood risk to the community, given the substantial snow volume we were faced with this year, I would categorize flood risk within that while we can hope for the best, we should prepare for the worst and look further down the road in order to mitigate flood risk if indeed that is what Red Deerians are faced with.”

She added even though the City saw a great deal of snow at once, that could be an advantage in terms of potential flooding around the area.

“Locally here, we got so much snow so soon that the ground isn’t necessarily as frozen to the depth as it normally would be. Even some of the melt we are experiencing, a lot of that will be absorbed into the ground which will help us locally. The greater risk is in terms of what happens upstream from us and the implications that that will have for Red Deer.”

Paul Goranson, director of development services, said City crews are currently cleaning up storm drains, responding to problem areas and working to prevent water from pooling as the snow continues to melt in Red Deer.

“The main thing we are monitoring closely and taking action on is the localized melt and the snowfall that exists in and around Red Deer. We have been going around the back lanes and streets and opening up catch basins in the lowest areas to make sure if there are drainage issues that water will get into a catch basin,” he said.

To date, the City has cleared snow and ice from more than 1,000 storm drains in laneways to ensure proper drainage for spring run off. Goranson said no new resources have been brought in to assist meet the demand, but existing City resources have been allocated to help speed up the process.

As the snow and ice continues to melt, water flows along gutters and ditches and into the City’s storm water drainage system. Some of the neighbourhoods along the City’s border experience run off from the surrounding County. Quarter sections east of Red Deer are at a higher elevation causing the run off water to flow into the City’s system; therefore, these areas were already cleared to ensure proper drainage.

“This is typically where we have issues. We’ve had staff out and inspecting all of the catch basins and culverts around the perimeter of the City to make sure they are free and clear and are open for the spring run off when it does come.”

In terms of river flooding, Goranson said the City will monitor the potential hazard of that, but it is too early yet to tell what Red Deerians could possibly face.

“The river flooding is a later issue. The river usually peaks at the beginning of June, so that is a ways away yet,” he said. “There are a number of things that have to happen concurrently for it to be a crisis situation. What happened in 2005 and 2013 – when you have significant snow pack from the mountains and combine the run off from the mountains with rainfall then you tend to have the most challenges. It’s difficult to predict.”

Meanwhile, the residential snow clearing program should wrap up in the City this week.

“We must continue our residential plow program as there are significant ruts being created on our streets with the freeze-thaw cycles we’ve been experiencing,” said Greg Sikora, public works manager. “The plow program also plays an essential role in removing snow from storm drains and clearing drainage routes to the storm sewer system.”

If residents have questions or concerns about storm drains, residential plowing or potholes, they can contact the City at 403-342-8238 or through the City’s ‘Report a Problem’ tool at reddeer.ca.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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