By J.W. Schnarr
It will be an opportunity to discuss the Southern Regional Stormwater Management Plan at the provincial level when members of the Municipal District of Taber council meet with the new minister of environment and parks.
During their regular meeting on Sept. 8, council accepted for information a letter from acting regional executive director Darren Bourget in the office of Alberta Environment and Parks.
Bourget passed on congratulations from minister Shannon Phillips on the production plan, which “represents a collaboration effort by 10 urban and rural municipalities and three irrigation districts in a large portion of southern Alberta.”
Bourget also invited council to meet with Phillips to discuss the project and the issues faced by the area in more detail.
“It’s just a matter of bringing it back in their hands seeing how they want to progress,” said Reeve Brian Brewin.
The area involved is bounded on the north by the Oldman River and South Saskatchewan River, and extends south and west to include the entire drainage area of the St. Mary Irrigation District main canal, the most significant drainage feature in the region.
The eastern boundary is defined by the drainage basin of Seven Persons Creek, which discharges into the South Saskatchewan River in Medicine Hat.
In all, the area comprises 8,000 sq. kilometres (2,000,000 acres) of land, the vast majority of which (61 per cent) is non-irrigated and private irrigation farmland.
In 2010, a 1:100 year rainfall (one per cent chance each year over 100 years) in the eastern and western portions of the study area caused dramatic flooding events across the southern portion of the province.
In the rest of the area, rainfall was significantly less, amounting to somewhere between a 1:10 and 1:25 year event.
While rainfall was much lower in 2011, overland flooding again occurred during dramatic snowmelts and drainage channel restrictions caused by snow and ice.
Again in 2013, flooding occurred in the area but it was primarily limited to Medicine Hat. The flooding was caused by rainfall outside the study area in the Rocky Mountains and foothills leading to high flows in the Bow River basin.
In total, the study proposes seven mitigation options throughout the area studied, with a total price tag of $151 million. These options include:
Chin Reservoir expansion, $39 million;
Horsefly Spillway, $46 million;
Sherburne Spillway and Reservoir Expansion, $13 million;
Sauder (Rattlesnake) Reservoir Spillway, $13 million;
Murray Reservoir Expansion, $25 million;
Paradise Creek Dry Dam, $13 million; and
Drain Inlet Pumping Stations (20 sites), $2 million.
The ministry considers flood mitigation to be a priority for Albertans.