By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Coaldale will be proceeding with Phase 2B of the Malloy Drainage Project after receiving federal and provincial grant dollars.
In announcement last Friday, Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig said they had received more than $2 million from the federal and provincial government for the project.
“Today marks a tremendous accomplishment in Coaldale and area as we receive grant funding for Malloy Drain Phase 2B. It’s a very wonderful project, it has environmental components, how we can safely manage water and protect property and lives in the event of a severe storm event,” said Craig. “To me, it’s a combination of a lot of work over a number of years, when we were in a situation where we felt we really had to aggressively address stormwater problems in Coaldale.”
Craig said the town was “fortunate enough” to have a good partnership with Lethbridge County, the St. Mary’s River Irrigation District (SMRID) the provincial government and the federal government and collaborate with them on the project, and the town’s administration staff have worked hard with their peers with Alberta Environment to further the project and increase the town’s retention of storm water.
“I think it just goes to show when people work together, a lot can be accomplished, and we’ve accomplished an awful lot,” said Lorne Hickey, reeve of Lethbridge County. “When we look back a dozen years ago, what did we have here? We had water, water, water. And with this project in mind, we’re going to eliminate a lot of that, but it couldn’t have happened without the help of the federal government, the provincial government and our good friend Grant Hunter (Taber-Warner MLA), the Town of Coaldale and the SMRID. If we didn’t all work together, we could not have accomplished this.”
“The St. Mary River Irrigation District is pleased to partner with the Town of Coaldale and Lethbridge County on this important initiative,” said David Westwood, General Manager for SMRID.
“The completion of this portion of the Malloy Drain Implementation Plan will allow for improved drainage for the Town of Coaldale, provide enhanced flood mitigation in all of our jurisdictions, and improve the water quality that enters the SMRID system which will benefit all of our water users downstream of Coaldale.”
Phase 2B will see the abandoned raw water reservoirs in southeast Coaldale repurposed for stormwater storage, along with construction of a new wetland with fore bay and a new bio-swale with a pump station, which will direct the stormwater from the south wetland into the reservoirs.
“These retention ponds and the retention ponds that you build, when you eventually release, it’s nice to give assurance to the downstream people that we’re releasing good water downstream, so those mitigation efforts on the filtration bio-swale make it a lot more healthy for when we release in all these storm events.”
Additionally, Phase 2B will create storage for 600,000 tonnes of water.
Last month, the province announced that the Canadian and Albertan governments along with the support of municipalities or other community organizations will provide more than $107.5 million to complete eight infrastructure projects in northern and southern Alberta as approved through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), including more than $3 million for the Malloy Drain. In total, there is $1,238,000 in federal funding and $1,031,564 in provincial funding towards the project budget of $3,095,000.
“Over the summer, we have seen the government of Alberta support key water and irrigation projects, as well as key infrastructure projects,” said Hunter,. “Alberta’s government takes this industry very seriously and this area very seriously, and is committed to making between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat the Agrifood corridor of Canada.
“As we recover economically from the triple black swan event of COVID-19, the collapse in oil prices and the greatest recession since the 1930s, our government is taking serious action by enacting the right steps that ensure Alberta thrives well into the future. Premier Kenney has declared Alberta is open for business, and this project shows our commitment to accomplishing just that.”
Southern Alberta is home to 70 per cent of all of Canada’s irrigated land, and if it had been flooded in 2017, Hunter said the loss of revenue over the years in order to reclaim that land would be “substantial”.
“This is about being able to make sure that the infrastructure we have, the irrigation canals that we have, are properly taken care of and into the future, we’re making sure that they are resilient.”
Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder congratulated the town in a statement read during the event, and “I am excited to see this project become reality, as it repurposes abandoned reservoirs into storm water storage, enables the construction of a new wetland floor bay and new bio-swale to direct storm water into the reservoirs”.