Operators prepare to release water into river
Operators of the Dickson Dam could be releasing water in the coming weeks in anticipation of what appears to be an average year for snow pack runoff.
A set date hasn’t been made to release the water yet but will possibly start in the first week of April in order to facilitate the spring runoff.
The Town of Drumheller has been in regular contact with dam operators monitoring the river, and so far there are minimal concerns.
“They said there was an average amount of snowpack in the high country so that’s good,” said Drumheller Mayor Terry Yemen.
The town has asked the RCMP to take a reading off the Gordon Taylor Bridge at the end of their shift each day.
If numbers are higher than normal they will contact the town.
Additionally, the town will be asking CN Rail to send out a surveyor to monitor the water levels from the train bridge on the west side of town.
“We will be able to have a better understanding of just what level the river is coming through Drumheller at, because the elevation of the train bridge is completely different than the elevation at Gordon Taylor Bridge,” said Mayor Yemen.
“It would be nice to have numbers for both bridges.”
The snowpack melt is considered average with hardly any snow to be reduced by absorption.
“I would never say never that we’re not going to have a flood but they’re not anticipating any problems, but all the key ingredients of a perfect storm are going to come together again,” said Yemen.
The dam anticipates drawing the reservoir down a little to leave a cushion so the runoff can be accepted without further complications.
The dam is currently flowing at 18 cm/sec (cubic meters) but may increase to 45 cm/sec when they do decide to let the water go.
Before feeding more water into the river, they will survey the river so the release does not add to ice already in place and cause more problems.
They will also call the town and advise them if anything happens.
“There’s the opportunity or the chance of a perfect storm where you do get a sudden melt and you do get an extreme amount of rainwater precipitation in the Red Deer River basin. That’s when you have a problem.”
Dickson Dam operators plan to release water into the Red Deer River in the coming months after heavy inspection. The Town of Drumheller will be notified when it happens.