By Justin Seward
Alta Newspaper Group – Bow Island
The Horsefly Spillway project has received some funding, as per the South Regional Drainage Committee June update.
“We’re still at the fundraising part of it,” said Merrill Harris, M.D. of Taber reeve. “Until we get the federal funding, there is no ground breaking.”
Phase 3 of the project between Taber Lake and the Oldman River recently received $7.3 million from the Alberta Community Resiliency Program (ACRP).
Those funds will go towards the $22 million phase.
Phase 1 is St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) to Horsefly Reservoir ($9.5 million) and Phase 2 is from the reservoir to Taber Lake ($15.2 million).
“The committee picked the Horsefly project as the one that would give the most benefit to the project as a whole,” said Harris.
“The idea is in 2018 when we had all that spring flooding, the St. Mary River Irrigation (SMRID), south of Chin was empty, south of Taber it was about half-full and south of Grassy Lake it was almost coming out of the canal. That’s how much drainage water was going into the drainage canal. The idea with Horsefly is to empty it out again so the drainage water can be picked further down stream.”
Local municipalities on the committee include the County of Forty Mile (15.5 per cent to the projects), and Cypress County (14 per cent to all projects) and the remaining percentages will be made up by Lethbridge County, Cardston County, County of Warner, City of Lethbridge, Town of Taber, Town of Coaldale, SMRID and TID.
The committee is still waiting on a decision on federal funding from Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).
“The M.D. of Taber has been contacted recently from the Disaster Mitigation Adaptation Fund (DMAF) and ICIP in regards to the application the committee has in for funding under DMAF and under ICIP for the federal portions of funding for Horsefly Spillway project,” said Harris.
Harris says at this time it’s in the hands of the ICIP team to approve or deny the funding request.
As for the DMAF funding, the M.D. and MPE Engineering have had discussions with DMAF about how they can update their application.
The project initially failed to get any first-round funding because of the program being “oversubscribed” and wasn’t high enough on its ranking system.
“It’s looking good,” said Harris. “The DMAF application form required the municipality that’s applying for the funding to guarantee that the municipalities share was going to be paid. It made the application look stronger than if we hadn’t checked off that box.”
The committee will know by mid-August if that application was successful.
Harris says the money they don’t get from the federal government, which will leave $5.5 million left to be paid by the municipal partners.
The $47-million project has been in the talks since 2014 and is meant to upgrade capacities to the Horsefly turnout on St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID). Construction will include 14 kilometres of ditch upgrades, crossing upgrades on local roads, Highway 3 and CPR, seven concrete drop structures, the construction of a concrete spillway outlet to the Oldman River, a constructed wetland at the Horsefly reservoir and Taber Lake to enhance water quality and automations and controls for flow monitoring.
The Horsefly project is part of the $152 million worth of projects that will also include the Chin expansion ($39 million), the Shelburne spillway /expansion ($13 million), Murray expansion ($25 million), Creek dry dam ($13 million and $2 million for 20 sites of drain inlet pumping stations.