Risk of flooding deemed ‘low’ in Big Lakes region

Some intersections in High Prairie, like the one at 53 Ave. and 42 St., as seen here, have plenty of ice after the snow melted and the water froze.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Risk of flooding and high water from spring runoff is low in the Big Lakes County region as snow melts in the coming weeks of spring and warmer temperature.

Big Lakes and Town of High Prairie public works staff are optimistic the runoff will not cause any concerns.

“This year, due to limited accumulated snowpack, there is less risk of major overland flooding,” says Kevin Cymbaluk, director of public works for Big Lakes.

“Also, the past two years have been dry and resulted in a considerable volume of storage available in sloughs, creeks and other waterbodies.”

Many areas in the Peace region are in the same position, he notes.

“Typical annual snowfall is about 200 cm for this area and we are well under that amount,” Cymbaluk says.

“During the winter, some melting will occur, which lessens the spring runoff volume.”

Crews are actively working in many areas to open up ditches, roadsides and culvert ends, he says.

“Fortunately, a major mid-winter runoff did not happen in 2022-23,” Cymbaluk says.

“When that occurs, many culverts can be frozen and create even more flooding in the spring.”

Big Lakes community and protective services department plans for flood scenarios and works regionally to ensure mutual aid is available to respond to any emergency, he notes.

People are reminded to use caution when driving on roads with high water.

“Be cautious on county roads if flooding does occur since culverts can erode or wash out and water depth is often deceptive,” Cymbaluk says.

Residents and property owners are advised to take steps to prevent problems.

“It is prudent for citizens to take precautions and remove snow in areas where runoff could damage their structures or associated infrastructure,” Cymbaluk says.

“Concerns can be discussed with municipal staff or councillors as everyone monitors problem areas.”

Anyone who observes water accumulating is requested to phone Big Lakes at (780) 523-5955.

The most recent spring flooding occurred in April and May 2020 when water significantly hit farmland north of High Prairie around the East Prairie River and other areas such as Joussard.

Flooding came about one month after a heavy snowfall that dumped 12 inches of snow in some areas March 28-29.

After the snowfall, some areas in the county had three feet of snowpack.

Minimal impacts are expected in the Town of High Prairie, says Vern Walker, superintendent of public works.

“I don’t anticipate any problems with high water and flooding in town,” Walker says.

“We had less snow on the ground in late March than we did last year.”

Town crews have been busy the past few weeks steaming culverts and catch basins, he says.

Temperatures in the High Prairie region are expected to warm up in the first week of April, according to the Weather Network on March.

Daily high temperatures are predicted to rise to around 8 C starting April 6.

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