Op­er­a­tors pre­pare to re­lease wa­ter into river

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Terri Hux­ley

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.”

mailphoto by Terri Hux­ley

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.

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