Town begins work on river protection
Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 08:33 am
A foothills community is stockpiling materials needed for a $7.45 million project to protect its riverbeds from further damage this spring while awaiting approval from the Province to go ahead.
Turner Valley Town council gave work crews the green light at its regular meeting last month to purchase gravel and boulders needed to place riprap along the Sheep River to provide much-needed protection before the river rises again this spring.
Existing riprap was weakened, and in some cases washed out, during the 2013 flood in southern Alberta.
“What was there was sufficient to hold the flooding of 2005 but it did not stand up to the most recent flood and was washed away,” said Ray Reid, Town of Turner Valley’s director of recovery coordination.
The Town received $3.1 million from the Province’s Disaster Recovery Program last fall to repair the Decalta Bridge, a portion of Decalta Road and to construct an emergency berm in the Sheep River. The funds also covers the cost to place riprap protection for the bridge and berm.
The Town’s application for $7.45 million will provide further riprap protection along the river and was made to the Province’s Flood Recovery Erosion Control (FREC) program.
Turner Valley Chief Administrative Officer Leslie Fitzgerald told council it’s important the Town start buying riprap with the material in high demand by other communities damaged in the 2013 flood.
“Rip rap is a fairly scarce commodity,” she said.
Turner Valley mayor Kelly Tuck said she is glad council agreed to go ahead.
“We want to make sure we are armoured and ensure that we can at least sustain another flood if it does occur,” she said. “We’ve got to get it done before spring hits. Many municipalities are of the same feeling.”
The $7.45 million project will provide protection along the Sheep River banks 400 metres upstream and 100 metres downstream of the Decalta Bridge, he said.
The riprap will protect the town’s water wells, new raw water pipeline, infiltration gallery, pumping station and the banks along Decalta Drive and Calkins Place subdivision, said Reid.
He said some of these areas weren’t severely damaged by floodwaters that spilled the banks last June, but the river bank was weakened.
“Downstream there is severe erosion occurring on the south side of the river that’s impacted the roadway on the top of the hill area,” he said. “Also just beyond the bridge itself at the gas plant.
“Wherever there is a weak point water will erode. If you have a break in riprap it will erode and get behind the protection and wash it out.”
Reid said the project will replace existing gravel and boulder materials and provide continuous protection along the banks.
Although crews will begin work immediately, Reid said the entire project will not be complete before the spring.