By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Horsefly Spillway Project is currently in Phase 1 of its development.
“The Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway is a flood mitigation infrastructure project located within the Municipal District of Taber (MDT),” Arlos Crofts, Chief Administrative Officer for the M.D. of Taber, said. “The MDT is the managing partner for the project on behalf of the South Regional Storm water Drainage Committee (SRSDC). Its primary purpose is to serve as an emergency release, allowing excess water to be carried away from the Main SMRID Canal all the way to the Oldman River using existing irrigation infrastructure during periods of heavy rainfall or flooding, helping to mitigate the risk of floods and protect the surrounding areas and communities.”
The project, Crofts says, involves various parts of the Municipal District of Taber and region that are susceptible to flooding and for the protection of the 300 km Main SMRID Canal which is a vital piece of irrigation infrastructure for farms and farmers and offers a constant supply of potable water to many communities in southern Alberta. Without it, Crofts says, the potential for significant damage to water security and other infrastructure, property, high-value crops and farmland and the threat to human safety is immeasurable.
“In 2020, $47 million in shared funding was announced by all levels of government (Southern Regional Stormwater Drainage Committee members, provincial and federal governments) for the construction of the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway project,” Crofts said.
Crofts states that the Horsefly project, which is part of an overall southern regional drainage plan, began in 2011, and Phase 1 broke ground in December 2022. Phases 2 and 3, Crofts says, are currently in the design stages.
“Once completed, the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway will play a crucial role in safeguarding the region from potential flood disasters,” Crofts said. “By effectively managing excess water during heavy rainfall or flooding events, the spillway will help protect infrastructure, agricultural lands, residential areas, and further address water security – reducing the overall economic impact of flood-related damages.”
Completion of the project, according to Crofts, is slated for approximately 2025/2026. For more information about the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway, visit: https://www.mdtaber.ab.ca/p/horsefly.
“The long-term economic impact of these infrastructure upgrades will make rural and urban communities more resilient to flooding and protect critical water infrastructure, while at the same time providing the necessary groundwork to attract further investment in the agri-food processing industry for a brighter future for all southern Albertans,” Crofts said.”