City continues with project to create designs for six flood protection berms
The City of Swift Current is continuing with a project to create detailed designs for six flood protection berms.
Councillors approved two agreements in relation to this project at a regular council meeting, Dec. 17.
The one agreement is with Golder Associates Ltd., an engineering and environmental services consultancy that will carry out the design work at a cost of $199,700 (GST excluded).
The other agreement is with the Water Security Agency, which will fund 50 per cent of the project cost through the new Flood Damage Reduction Program.
“It’s a new program that the Water Security Agency and the province have come up with that is intended to lessen the impacts of flooding throughout the province,” City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken said after the meeting. “We were fortunate enough to have done a fair bit of work on flood mitigation previously. So we kind of had a leg up on getting into the early stages of the program. We're one of the first projects that’s been approved under the program.”
The City will receive a refund of $99,850 from the Water Security Agency, but the grant conditions require that the detailed designs of the berms are completed by March 31, 2019.
“Golder has assured us that they’ll have their design work done by then,” he said.
The City has previously used Golder Associates to carry out work on flood mitigation measures. The company was appointed in 2012 to do flood hazard mapping and that project identified six locations where flood protection berms will be an advantage. In 2014 the company prepared preliminary designs for the six berms, which will provide protection up to and including the 1:100 year flood level.
The new agreement with Golder Associates requires the creation of detailed designs for the six berms and the preparation of tender documents for the two priority berms along the Swift Current Creek in the Ashley Park neighbourhood.
Minken is confident the City will also be eligible for funding from the Water Security Agency's Flood Damage Reduction Program for the future construction phase.
“At this point it’s for the detailed design phase, but as we move into the construction phase, then there may be some dollars there for us as well, depending on how everybody else progresses in the program, but it’s looking fairly positive that there may be some money to assist us with the construction as well,” he said.
These berms will be permanent structures along the creek to protect the adjacent areas against flood events. The detailed designs will determine how these six structures will look, but there is already a berm in the Ashley Park area on the north side of the creek. It runs eastwards along the creek from 6th Avenue NE and a section of the Chinook Parkway is located on it.
“We're not sure whether that particular one is high enough right now,” he said. “It may need to be raised to accommodate the 1:100 event.”
According to Minken there has not been a 1:100 year flood event in the known history of the city.
“There was the 2011 event, which was fairly large, and then there was one that was probably a little bit higher in the late fifties, but they were fairly similar in that regard, and they were 1:200 or 1:300 events,” he said. “By getting to the 1:100 event height we’ll be well prepared to withstand big flood events if they happen to come along.”
An important benefit of a berm is the permanent protection provided to an area. In the past the City had to provide resources to protect properties against high water levels, which are costly and take away resources from other tasks.
“We wouldn’t likely be looking at having to do temporary flood mitigation measures at any time in the future,” he said about the benefit of berms. “So hopefully no more sandbagging, no more sand boxes and all the rest of that stuff.”
The City included $800,000 in the 2017 budget for the flood mitigation design and construction project. The availability of that money was conditional on the success of grant applications.
“So now that the grants have come through, that money is still available to us,” he said.
The 50 per cent grant funding from the Water Security Agency for the detailed design of the berms will leave more of that budget funds available for the construction phase.
“It will depend on funding, but if everything is positive and funding is available coming out of that, we would look towards construction in 2019,” Minken noted.