Myron Thompson leading push for dam

It’s time to construct a dam on the Red Deer River to protect against spring runoff flooding, says a newly formed community group.

It’s time to construct a dam on the Red Deer River to protect against spring runoff flooding, says a newly formed community group.

Myron Thompson, spokesman for the Red Deer River Quality Control Committee, said while some efforts have been taken to protect against flooding in the Sundre area, such as berms and rock-filled spurs to limit erosion, a long-term solution needs to be found in an area stretching from south of the town to Gleniffer Lake.

“That whole stretch of river is risky all through there,” said the former MP, who has been deeply involved in lobbying for provincial and federal funding help for previous river projects.

“Something needs to be done because in (the committee’s) opinion, we’re only one flood away from disaster.”

Thompson said there are a number of measures that have potential, including extending berms to keep back flood waters.

But the best solution would be to build a dam upriver that could be used to control each spring the amount of water rushing down the river, which at many points has low banks.

Besides controlling flows, a dam could be used to provide hydroelectric power and its reservoir would provide a recreation destination and increase tourism to the West Country.

“There are so many positives,” said Thompson.

The committee plans to encourage area residents to write the province to press for action, he said. Hundreds of letters get more attention in Edmonton than a petition with scores of signatures, he said.

The dam idea is not new. In the 1970s, prior to the Gleniffer Lake dam being built, there were four potential dam sites identified further upstream.

The committee plans to dig up past work and scientific studies to build its case to revive the dam plan.

In the meantime, there are other projects that could be undertaken to limit the kind of erosion that has torn up trees and filled the river with debris, he said.

Thompson said the province needs to undertake more general maintenance projects on its rivers to reduce flooding risks.

The committee has scheduled a public meeting to discuss its plans at the Sundre and District Pioneer Village Museum on Aug. 23, beginning at 7 p.m.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com