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Construction begins on flood mitigation in Fort McMurray

Last Updated Oct 29, 2020 at 4:59 pm MDT

PHOTO. One of four stockpiles of clay material in Fort McMurray, Alta. Flood mitigation is underway with the construction of temporary berms in Downtown and Waterways. Supplied by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

EDIT: The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo issued a clarification saying crews will not remove topsoil and aggregate in areas where construction of temporary berms will take place.

Preparations for the 2021 river breakup are underway.

The Municipality announced the beginning of construction of temporary berms in Fort McMurray’s Downtown and Waterways neighbourhoods.

Deputy CAO Matthew Hough said temporary berms in Taiga Nova are already complete.

“We’re doing everything in our power to protect residents and businesses against overland flooding. While we work towards permanent solutions, these temporary measures will provide a strong level of structural protection.”

The scheduled completion of the temporary clay berms is December 31, 2020.

Along with flood barriers and sandbags, these preparations should mitigate potential flood impacts in 2021.

Temporary berms

These berms use up to 75,000 cubic meters of clay material, which comes from four stockpiles in Parsons Creek.

Alberta Infrastructure provided the material, which the RMWB will test for safety, at no cost.

They will also use vibration monitoring to ensure no damages to nearby homes and businesses during construction.

If a flood event occurs, bagged systems or other temporary protection will close the gaps in the berms.

The Municipality said those gaps serve as primary access points outside of flooding events.

A sandbag program will also be in place for the 2021 river breakup.

Other improvements to protect infrastructure, businesses and residents from flooding will include inflatable plugs.

These will block river water from backflowing into the Municipality’s pipe and sewer networks.

Permanent flood mitigation measures such as large slide gates will be in place for 2022 river breakup.

Berms for Taiga Nova, Downtown, and Longboat Landing should also be complete by that time.