M.D. of Smoky River prepares for spring runoff

Lake Falher? Lac Falher? A lake was created east of Falher by the spring runoff in April 2020 in a field on the west side of Range Rd. 213 north of Highway 49.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The M.D. of Smoky River does not expect any major concerns or risks for potential flooding as snow melts in the coming weeks of spring and temperatures climb.
“It’s a fairly average snowpack in the M.D.,” says Ian Cosh, director of operations.
“While there is always a risk of unexpected fluctuations in the weather, such as a snowfall or a sustained warm wind, the melt is expected to be average also.”
He says the snowmelt depends on the weather.
“The best case scenario for runoff is the type of weather we have had so far this March, gently warm days with cool nights just below freezing, which allows a slow melt and a gradual runoff,” Cosh says.
“We don’t want to see high amounts of precipitation or temperatures higher than seasonal norms.”
Operations crews have been busy in the past weeks to prepare for the runoff.
“Our crews have recently serviced and prepared our equipment to thaw culverts and have been snow plowing select ditches to allow a steady flow once the water starts moving,” Cosh says.
“Our preparations for this year began with the many years of work that has led us to the road, bridge and drainage network we have now.”
Many ditches, bridges, large culverts and drainage projects can handle large flows of water, he says.
“The proper functioning of the larger parts of the drainage network is important and so are the smaller pieces of the system that serve to convey water from individual homes and farms to the larger pieces,” Cosh says.
“No area of the M.D. currently seems to be at particularly elevated risk this year over others.”
Much of the upgrades came after major flooding damage in 2018 and mostly recently in 2020 when the M.D. issued 29 temporary road closures.
Flooding was most severe in the Guy area, the area south of Donnelly and the Whitemud area.
The storm water drainage system at the time was not able to handle the runoff after an unseasonably heavy snowfall of about 12 inches on March 28-29, then-director Kevin Cymbaluk said at the time.
Cosh says the affected areas are now better protected.
“Many of the areas that were damaged and later repaired were rebuilt to better withstand the weather patterns that damaged them,” Cosh says.
“Where this often meant an increase in capacity, these pieces of the drainage network should function with reduced flooding and reduced impacts of flooding.”
Still, the M.D. is ready to meet any flooding issue.
“We will place flagging or barricades if we find roadways that have been damaged by runoff,” Cosh says.
He advises motorists and other citizens to respect the markings and to use appropriate caution at all times while driving.
Anyone who sees damaged roads or water running over roads and hasn’t been flagged or barricaded is requested to phone the M.D. office at (780) 837-2221.

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