County addresses spring run-off
Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 06:00 am
With the warm spring weather, landowners in Rocky View County (RVC) are dealing with excess water run-off generated by melting snow. To deal with the influx of water, RVC crews have been hard at work ensuring drainage systems are functioning properly.
“What we do is try to create opportunity for others, when there are impacts to their lands, that they have the ability through our flood response policy, to pump their excess water to our infrastructure – our ditches and our culverts,” said Byron Riemann, general manager of infrastructure and operations with RVC. “Our target is always to make sure that those systems are operational and can receive that extra water.”
Residents have expressed concern about spring run-off in the past, and this year is no different – especially since the large amount of snow and rapid melting combined to create even more water than usual. In a letter submitted to the Rocky View Weekly, Laura Starosta said the county has shown a “lack of respect” for her third-generation family farm.
“Obviously, as landowners, we know that water needs to move through our land, but agricultural land cannot be used as a substitute for infrastructure or a drainage system for new developments,” she wrote. “Farmland cannot be saturated with copious amounts of water and still remain productive.”
Riemann said the county does not divert water away from infrastructure and onto agricultural lands, as this would be “environmentally unsound.” However, he added RVC can’t be held responsible for historical movement of water during spring run-offs or excess rainfall events that cause flows that impact residents.
“Typically, we make sure to advise people that our flood response policy guidelines are available to help people be prepared for excess surface run-off,” he said. “We do operate call centres so people who are concerned or who don’t understand how they are going to address issues can get some assistance as we try to understand their situation and help them through it.”
He noted RVC did receive a number of calls last month and crews were dispatched full-time to deal with the water situation. Not only did the large amount of snow melt very quickly, the system required frequent maintenance, Riemann said.
“All that water had to find its way somewhere – and every night, it got below freezing, which meant all the culverts and systems all froze again,” he said. “We had to get out every morning to ensure it was all opened up so that flow could begin again. I think the response that the county put forward was excellent.”
Starosta said it was important for residents impacted by spring run-offs to raise any concerns with RVC.
“After all, agriculture land is where our food comes from, or has that been forgotten?”