Red Deer River looks inviting on hot summer days, but people should take precautions to stay safe while on the water. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Rafters should be prepared for fast, murky river

Red Deer River water level higher than usual

People floating down the Red Deer River should exercise caution, says an avid kayaker.

Todd Nivens, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, said the water level is high at 2.95 metres, and fast flowing at 147 cubic metres per second, compared to the seasonal norm of 80 to 85.

“If you’re used to floating on the river at this time of year, it’s not the same as it was last summer, or the summer before.

“It’s higher, it’s faster, it is significantly harder to see debris and obstructions,” said Nivens, who has been out on the river several times this summer.

He said the potential for mishap is pretty high right now without a viable watercraft, such as a canoe or kayak, proper raft or boat. People need the ability to change course with paddles, oars or a motor.

“There is much more water pushing on you when you’re in the river. That means when you come off of a floaty, and you don’t have a lifejacket, maintaining your control in the river is going to be very, very difficult.

“Even if you can touch the bottom, you won’t be able to stand up in it if the water is more than hip height.

“That creates a really dangerous situation. Unless you’re experienced at swimming in moving water, you won’t be able to control where you are in the river.”


11 rafters rescued from Red Deer River

Mountain snowpack deeper than usual, but flooding will depend on rain

He said the water is murky with a lot of erosion material clouding the river right now.

“The problem with that is you have no idea what’s underneath the surface of the river. If you’re in a canoe, or kayak or a proper raft, that’s not such a big deal, because those boats can take running over a stick, or a rock, or sweepers.

“A recreational floaty, meant to float on a lake or swimming pool, it’s going to get torn up.”

Sweepers are objects such as sticks or logs that are lodged into the river bottom.

“If you were to fall off of a raft or floaty, especially without a lifejacket, and get entangled in something below the surface you can’t see, your chances of getting out of that is almost nil.”

He said with a flow of 133 cubic metres per second, it only took him 40 minutes to paddle from Great Chief Park to MacKenzie Trails on Saturday night. Normally, the trip takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

“If it trends in the same direction, if we don’t get anymore rain, if they keep the outflow of the dam the same, probably by Saturday afternoon, I would expect it to be down in the 130 to 120 range, which is still significantly higher than it normally would be at this time of year.”

But Nivens said if people are properly equipped, a trip down the Red Deer River offers a great perspective on the city and the nature.

“If you can do it safely, there is no better way to get a sense of where we are and how we live and how we interact with the plants and animals around us. It’s just the best way to see this part of central Alberta.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

red deer city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Addressing anti-mask protests poses a challenge for leaders, experts say

Quebec’s COVID-19 case numbers hit their highest numbers since the end of May

Canada’s Kennedy to yesterday’s man: former PM John Turner dead at 91

Politicians and other public figures immediately began sharing memories

Community art project will thank front line workers

Red Deerians are painting hearts to say thank you to frontline workers.… Continue reading

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

The 2020 Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., will be held as a special hybrid event

New tools, ideas needed to speed up housing strategy funding, CMHC president says

Slow turnaround time on some of its national housing strategy programs

Letter containing ricin sent to White House may have come from Canada: RCMP

The letter contained ricin, a toxic substance found naturally in castor beans

Nunavut reports first confirmed COVID-19 cases, saying both are mine workers

The territory says at this time, there is no evidence of transmission within site

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

The pandemic has shown how heavily Canada relies on migrant and undocumented workers

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Former prime minister John Turner dead at 91

TORONTO — Former prime minister John Turner, whose odyssey from a “Liberal… Continue reading

Hay’s Daze: Happy to be left out of the picture

Talk about being out of the loop. Head in the sand. Uninformed,… Continue reading

Most Read