Flood solution strategy for Elk River proposed to Sparwood

The Elk River Alliance (ERA) approached Sparwood regarding implementing a flood solution strategy for the Elk River watershed.

The Elk River Alliance (ERA) approached the District of Sparwood regarding implementing a flood solution strategy for the Elk River watershed.

Lee-Anne Walker, Executive Director of ERA, sought support from the district in the education and training purposes of the strategy, which has received $300,000 in funding.

“We want to coordinate with stakeholders to produce a cost effective solution that increases our resilience to floods, protects our watershed function and enhances wildlife habitat,” said Walker. “Floods are a problem in our community. They damage personal property, they put public safety at risk, they destroy infrastructure and impact ecosystems.”

Walker explained that the strategy would include five major components: a hydrology report written in layman’s terms for easy understanding, flood mitigation solutions and an analysis of their costs, a flood model and animation tool to better understand flood situations, a community outreach and education program and lastly training to implement those solutions.

On the list of requests to council was a request that a staff member be appointed as liaison between ERA and council to direct immediate communication on the flood strategy.

Walker also asked that mayor and council participate in training on how to use the Flood Strategy upon its completion and made a request for ERA to be present at events such as Coal Miner Days and Canada Day.

Council was then invited to discuss the strategy, at which point Coun. Joe Jarina asked about the use of riprap — the use of rocks to armour shorelines — in cases of flooding.

Walker responded, “Riprap is a solution, but it isn’t the only solution. There are some costs and negative aspects of riprap we don’t fully understand, but we intend on armouring and protecting to be one of our strategies, but we want to explore other options, if there are any.”

Coun. Brad Bowen inquired about the impacts of debris and if the strategy would address that.

“Nature is inherently messy and after a flood you’re going to have a mess,” said Walker. “Hydrologists will explain how you can better protect your house and better understand where the water is coming from. Channel morphology is something we can provide.”

Council ultimately voted to have staff take ERA’s presentation under consideration and to draft a report which, upon completion, would be brought to council before a final decision is made.