Lawsuit alleges flood berm damage

A $1.5 million lawsuit alleges a Mountain View County anti-flooding berm redirected water on to three landowners’ properties, causing extensive damage.

A $1.5 million lawsuit alleges a Mountain View County anti-flooding berm redirected water on to three landowners’ properties, causing extensive damage.

The landowners, who live near the Red Deer River a few kilometres southwest of Sundre, allege that the berm constructed in 2011 just west of their properties prevented rising flood water from flowing along its historic channels during June spring runoffs in 2012 and in 2013.

Homes, driveways, decks, landscaping, ponds, recreation areas were damaged and river banks were eroded, says the lawsuit. A road to the properties was washed out and large amounts of mud and debris were left behind when waters receded.

Discussions with the county to deal with the problem went nowhere, the suit claims.

To try to spare their properties future damage after the 2012 floods, the property owners built a berm and overflow channel around their lands.

The county refused to reimburse them for this work, the lawsuit claims.

The county is accused of failing to consult with landowners before building the berm, failing to warn them of risks, or undertake a risk assessment prior to construction.

It is further alleged the berm was inadequate and the county didn’t fully undertake the plan proposed by Calgary-based consultants Matrix Solutions Inc.

Mountain View County also failed to compensate landowners for their losses, says the suit that was filed in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench last October.

Matrix is being sued for allegedly failing to take all steps to minimize flooding risk to the properties, warn the county and property owners of the dangers, undertake a risk assessment and design or recommend an adequate berm.

Damages of $700,000 are sought on behalf of property owner Joachim Ernest Tromposch to compensate for repair costs to his home, personal property and land and the cost of undertaking his own anti-flood measures.

The lawsuit also seeks $800,000 for property owners Susan Lynn Mayfield and James Raymond Meitl for similar reasons, as well as the loss of 2.5 acres that was converted into a pit rock channel to divert water around their properties.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. In its statement of defence, the county denies all allegations.

“The county specifically denies that the plaintiffs have suffered any damages or, in the alternative, that the county is in any way liable for such damages.”

If the plaintiffs’ properties were flooded in the two years, those events “were not reasonably foreseeable to the county and the county acted reasonably in building the berm in the first place and leaving it in place after the 2012 flood.”

The county also states that if there is any liability it rests with Matrix, which designed the berm. A Matrix spokesman was not available on Monday.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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