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Water in Lethbridge County finally going down the drain

Posted on June 30, 2014 by Sunny South News

Is it over? Has the deluge of heavy rains in the forecast subsided for now? Only time will tell, as Mother Nature is an unpredictable force. Did southern Alberta have its Flood of 2014 or is the worst yet to come?

Hopefully, flooding has come and gone for the province, including Lethbridge County, which is home to many crops and agricultural-related industry. “Most of the water is going down now. There are still areas that are going to have water sitting in them, especially in the hilly land or land that doesn’t have adequate drainage — it’s just going to be there,” said Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey, adding crops will be beyond repair in those areas.

Hickey said he turned on the local news the other night and heard many people say they think some of the crops under water are going to make it through. “They probably won’t be quite as good as they would be normally,” he noted.

Right now, Hickey said, Lethbridge County is in damage control mode. “We would encourage as many people as possible to let us know what their damage was, so we can send it off in our application for disaster assistance. It’s important to know that,” said Hickey, adding the county will start repairing roads and culverts washed out during heavy rains two weeks ago.

Hickey said it seemed like the rain was never going to end. “I don’t know what you can do with that sheer volume of water that was there. I don’t know whether there’s such a full-proof system or not.”

According to Hickey, the past few weeks have definitely shed some light on a recurring situation — the county still needs to improve drainage but can’t do it on its own.

“We need some help from the next level of government or maybe the next two levels of government. I mean they keep paying out, if they do this year, pay out a disaster — why can’t we get some funding just to eliminate the problem or do the best that we can to reduce the damage from it. We certainly need to move forward and lobby that fact. That it’s time that we work on curing this problem because this is the fifth time we’ve had a one-in-a-hundred-year rain event,” said Hickey.

How much money does the county have to pay out in disaster payments before the problem is fixed? Hickey hopes the recent water woes throughout southern Alberta will help push the issue to the forefront, both provincially and federally.

Locally, Hickey said it appears the Malloy Drainage Basin suffered a tremendous amount of damage again and at Wilson Siding, which is located on the south end of the county on Highway 4.

“Those appear to be probably the two hardest hit areas,” said Hickey.

For the weeks to come, Hickey said, the roads that were closed due to flooding need to be re-opened.

“We’re going to have to start gravelling the roads and doing what we can to bring them back into shape.”

Hickey would also like to thank residents for their co-operation during the flood event.

“I think things went relatively smooth. And I’d also like to say thanks to the staff because some of them put in more than one 24-hour shift,” said Hickey.

Lethbridge County citizens pumping access water from fields must first obtain written permission from their local irrigation district and apply and receive permission from Alberta Environment and Resource Development, as defined in the Water Act, noted a recent media release issued by the county. To apply for ESRD permission visit online at http://esrd.alberta.ca/water/forms-applications/documents/8471.pdf and submit via e-mail or call 403-381-5322. Local irrigation districts include the St. Mary River Irrigation District and the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District.

Picture Butte was relatively lucky with minimal damage from recent flooding in Lethbridge County, said Mike Derricott, chief administrative officer (CAO) for the Town of Picture Butte. “Certainly, there were communities that were in a much worse situation then we were. We did have some overwhelming of our storm and sanitary sewer systems. Our guys were here all through the night, I believe it was the Tuesday night. We had some vacuum trucks out here, helping to try and keep as much water moving as possible. Unfortunately, I think there were some residents that ended up with water in their basement but Mother Nature will have her way,” added Derricott.

“I’m very comfortable that the town did everything we possibly could to mitigate that situation but there’s only so much you can do when you get that much water in a short period of time.”

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