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Tuesday , 19 January 2021

M.D. looks at water drainage trouble spots before putting priority plan in place

Reeve says this spring alone roughly 300 calls were made to the M.D. regarding flooding.

Although the temperature is dropping, M.D. council is looking to make a plan for upcoming water drainage concerns for the years ahead.

At the Dec. 2 M.D. of Bonnyville committee meeting, council was presented a draft of the drainage priorities list and map, which will have three categories depending on the severity.

There were 38 areas deemed high priority of the three categories which means it affects infrastructure like an M.D. road or bridge, said Reeve Greg Sawchuk.

“This is a pretty high-level look at drainage, same as we did with our roads. And we found this to be a very useful exercise in helping to prioritize, and so you set a set of criteria to judge what should be your priority,” he said on The Morning After.

In the summer, council approved a drainage map that this priorities plan will look to remedy.

In the initial draft, the known drainage problem areas were collected by M.D. infrastructure services and categorized by risk.

“In this case, with drainage, what we looked at first as a number one priority would be something that’s affecting the actual M.D. infrastructure. So the likelihood of a bridge washout or a road to be damaged, that was the first priority. After that you had possible damage to households, so actual residences, and again, where drainage was the issue was coming off of perhaps a road allowance, and coming onto private property. That was the next thing to be looked at.

“Further down the line were cases where you had some natural drainage courses being creeks or drainage ditches, and they were just kind of overflowing their banks and overflowing into fields. No direct effect on individual houses, just on the farmland basically, or bush that type of thing.”

Council directed M.D. administration to provide members of council with a copy of the 2021 Drainage Project Priorities Map for more input before putting the plan in place.

Royghly $7 million was set aside to address drainage issues in Birch Grove, Elk Haven, Hillside, Willow Ridge, County Side, Country Lane, Sunset Beach, Drouin, Crawford Estates and Crane Lake subdivisions in the 2020 budget.

A major washout this summer was Lessard Bridge, which was forced closed for a month due to water 2.5 metres higher than normal.

However, any drainage issues related to single private dwellings and ag properties are to be addressed by the property owners themselves.

“I’ve seen it on my own farmland where what was originally a field that you would farm right through a few years ago, is getting wetter and wetter.

“Some of these things we have to recognize that we may not be able to solve. It is a drainage issue, but can we do anything about it, we might not be able to.”

It is anticipated the drainage priorities list will be revisited every year.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.