Work starts to remove gravelbars along Highwood
High River: Project hoped to reduce flood risk
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 07, 2013 06:00 am
Work is underway to remove gravel and sediment built up along the Highwood River with the hope it will protect High River from future flooding.
The work will involve scraping the tops of gravel bars formed left behind by the flood to remove gravel, sediments and debris left behind by the flood. It’s hoped the work will protect against future flooding by allowing the water to flow through more easily.
High River coun. Tim Whitford said it will give more room for the river to flow when water levels rise, keeping more of the water in the river and reducing the likelihood of flooding.
“What we’re doing is essentially working above the high water line and trying to create channel improvements,” he said.
The work is being done by Tervita Corporation, which has a contract with the provincial government to assist with cleanup and recovery in High River. Work on the project began last week and is expected to be completed by Sept. 15.
It’s estimated 64,000 cubic meters of rock will be removed from the river and the material will be stored and used for future flood mitigation projects.
Whitford is also a member of the Highwood Advisory Committee, which has created a new model of the river.
The committee wants gravel and sediment around the bridge Highway 2A bridge in the entre of town removed to improve river flow in the area.
“There’s only about 50 per cent capacity through the highway bridge available, so that’s one of the specific things we’re trying to do,” he said.
The work underway is not precisely what the committee had requested, rather it’s something that needed to be done right away while other options for flood protection are looked at.
“This is kind of an emergency start to it, the flood obviously re-arranged a lot of material,” he said.
Alberta Environment spokesperson Renee Hackney said the work will not include dredging the river to clear material from the river channel. The work will only involve removing gravel and sediment that is sitting above the water level.
“We’re not going into the water,” she said.
Former town coun. Floyd Langenhoff doesn’t think the work will make much difference.
“I don’t believe so, it could make a difference when we have the next flood for the first little while,” he said. “You’re not taking the restriction out of the river.”
Langenhoff also doesn’t think dredging will work either. “As soon as the Town dredged and took any of the gravel off, as soon as we had another flood it was right full again,” he said.
Dredging would work if the river was straightened out, said Langenhoff.
He wants to see a larger plan to protect High River that would including removing the CP Rail bridge to improve the flow of water through the centre of town.