Sundre erosion work to start

Final approvals have been lined up and now a long-awaited project to safeguard Sundre by stemming river erosion can begin.

Final approvals have been lined up and now a long-awaited project to safeguard Sundre by stemming river erosion can begin.

“We’re full steam ahead,” said Ron Baker, the town’s director of operational services.

Baker admitted he was relieved to get the final green lights last week for the $2.4-million project from the Federal Departments of Transport, Fisheries and Oceans, and Alberta Environment.

Now the race is on to get as much river work done before the ice melts and the ground thaws. “The more froze things are, the better,” he said.

Equipment is expected to arrive this week for the job to build seven spurs to control erosion by directing water away from the most vulnerable river bank spots.

The project will take four to six weeks and about 14,000 tonnes of rock has already been stockpiled on site.

The number of spurs was recently reduced from 12 as a cost-saving measure. Baker said the rock barriers reinforced with riprap will protect the biggest problem areas.

“We’ve really got the maximum amount of protection in the worst point. We’re putting the spurs where the river is hitting us the worst.”

Some of the spurs will be on dry land and construction will start on those first before building those in the river.

The project got a big boost from the provincial government last August when it announced that it would provide the necessary funding.

Then-Environment Minister Rob Renner said that public safety was involved because erosion threatened to expose municipal sewer lines.

The town has also had to close part of a popular path that has been eaten away by the river.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com