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County wants river study

Mountain View County wants the province to update its flood assessment of the Red Deer River so decisions can be made on how best to ward against a future disaster.

Municipal officials met last month with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development staff and emphasized the need to take another look at the river, which hasn’t been assessed for many years.

“A lot of information was based on a study done prior to the 2005 flood,” said Reeve Bruce Beattie.

“Obviously, with the major flood that happened that year it changed significantly the course and the direction of the river. So we’re looking for a more updated study to get a better handle on what we can anticipate in terms of the river’s flow.”

The request is in, but so far there has been no word from the province on if it plans to fund and undertake the assessment this year.

Beattie said provincial officials recognize that the flood risk is a significant issue to the community.

Alberta Environment spokesperson Carrie Sancartier said the province is “committed to further discussion with the county to ensure proper and appropriate flood management including flood hazard mapping.”

More discussions will be needed before a decision on a new river review is made.

Beattie said getting a handle on flood risk is critical before the municipality can determine what further steps should be taken to guard against the river overflowing its banks.

Last June, about 300 residents southwest of Sundre were given evacuation notices when the river once again topped its banks, flooding some low-lying areas and cutting off access roads to housing.

Mountain View County decided in October to spend about $250,000 constructing a berm to hold back the river, which flowed into a new channel over the summer.

Council has considered — but made no decision — on extending the berms at a cost of $1.5 million. Funding would be needed from the province or raised through a local improvement tax.

Beattie said until more study has been done to back up the need for more work, the province isn’t likely to consider spending more money.

The province has come up with anti-flooding cash previously.

In 2011, the Alberta government announced $2.4 million in funding to build eight riprap-reinforced rock spurs into the river at Sundre to redirect the water and reduce bank erosion. That project was finished last spring.

Meanwhile, a local group is collecting letters of support and seeking a meeting with Premier Alison Redford to press their case for more money to be spent on anti-flooding measures.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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