Residents fed up with chronic problem
South Peace News
Residents frustrated about chronic flooding in the Buffalo Bay and Horse Lakes area near Grouard heard several solutions during Big Lakes County council meeting May 9.
Alberta Environment and Parks presented a preliminary report and best options.
“You can be sure that the county and council will work with AEP to come up with a solution,” Reeve Ken Matthews said, speaking to the gallery that overflowed with about 40 residents.
“Your input is important.”
Residents will be consulted more as part of the process to gather local information and suggestions that will be part of a report.
“We plan to have another community meeting and will consider all input from stakeholders to make recommendations,” says Chaudhry Ali, AEP infrastructure manager for the Peace and Athabasca basins.
“We recognize frequent flooding in the area and the problem is getting worse and we want a long-term solution.”
Options were explained by Robyn Andrishak, principal of Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, contracted by AEP to study the area.
A plan to retreat from the flood-prone areas and steps to improve the existing dikes were the top two options presented.
The cost to upgrade dikes was estimated at $10 million for capital work and $2 million a year for maintenance.
Andrishak further presented other options that would see work to divert or bypass high flows. He estimates the cost at about $10 million of capital work and annual maintenance of $1 million.
A fourth option is to build an upstream flood detention area estimated at $20 million for capital work and $3 million in annual maintenance.
Maintaining current dikes is the fifth option.
“A combination of options is certainly possible for different flood-prone areas,” says Andrishak.
“Without regular maintenance, the system becomes ineffective.”
The riverbeds in the East Prairie and West Prairie rivers are rising, he says.
“One of the best ways to solve the problem is to reduce the sediment upstream or dredge,” Andrishak says.
Regular maintenance is vital to prevent flooding.
“There was no problem until the provincial government stopped maintaining the channels,” says Enilda – Big Meadow Councillor Donald Bissell.
Another councillor agreed proper maintenance was vital.
“You have to have annual maintenance,” said Prairie Echo – Salt Prairie Councillor Dave Marx.
“Costs may be high in the first year, but when annually maintained, the costs could be low.”
Residents supported some of the options such as dredging and removing logs and wood.