By Cole Parkinson
With overland flooding affecting the Municipal District of Taber in late March, M.D. council discussed the possibility of avoiding flooding on residential properties in the future.
As multiple areas across the M.D. region saw various amounts of water throughout the flooding, M.D. councillors had a few questions about potentially limiting the damage to future residential developments.
One suggestion came with the idea of having maps that relay information of high risk areas that could see large amounts of flooding. That way council can have an idea if the property would be an ideal place for a house.
“On some of these properties that have been flooded a number of years in a row, a couple of them are brand new developments. Is there any way of overlaying where the flood waters go to on top of any of the maps we have so that when we’re approving subdivision development we’re aware of this? That way we can approve or not approve based upon that,” said Coun. John Turcato at the M.D.’s regular meeting on March 27.
Multiple different residences were evacuated during this last event and with the constant threat of flooding every spring, Turcato was hopeful of steering potential land owners away from certain areas that could see water damage.
The ability to use maps and past data of where floods hit the hardest could likely save some manpower for the M.D. as well.
“In 10 years down the road from now, should that person decide to put a basement in there, that development has already been approved, does that change the use of it or does that come in front of us again?” asked Turcato. “You could have a $1 million dollar house there with a basement and end up in the same situation. We’re not trying to be too overbearing but also we use a lot of assets and man power to try and mitigate people’s properties. By us allowing them to be on these places where they can be flooded, it’s not really good planning.”
While the idea itself is solid, M.D. staff wasn’t entirely sure it would be that easy.
With each event comes different challenges and varying concerns so having a map may be a good starting point, it also could very well be way off year to year.
“There is the other variable of, we are in a very high irrigation area and the water table is that much higher so you can’t predict,” said Jeremy Wickson, director of public works for the M.D.
With several floods over the past eight years, the most recent had its own set of issues that M.D. staff had to deal with.
“The accumulative effects are changing our environment completely. This event is completely different from what we’ve seen,” added Derrick Krizsan, CAO for the M.D. of Taber.
M.D. workers and supervisors worked a bunch of extra hours during the local state of emergency and councillors had questions about if their staff had been getting enough rest in between shifts.
“There was a concern about worker fatigue and that’s an ongoing thing. Currently we’re trying to balance staff, if we don’t have to work them 12 hours a day we’re not. In an emergency situation if we have to work a little bit longer, say till 9 p.m., we’re keeping our eye on the guys. The supervisors are typically putting in the most time,” said Wickson. “Every morning at 7 a.m. I scan the room, I check eyes to see who is blurry, who needs a coffee or who just needs to potentially (be sent home).”
With more melting coming in the near future, the M.D. is ready for the next event whenever it comes. Past experience shows that no matter how hard they are hit with moving water, the staff is always prepared to handle whatever situation they’re thrown into.
“This is the fourth or fifth flood event in the last eight years,” said Krizsan. “Every time the work they do is just incredible.”