The City of Weyburn continues to prepare for an above-average spring runoff as the persistent winter weather continues to hang on.
While the impact of the runoff will be determined by the pace of melting this spring, steps have been taken to mitigate the impat of the significant snowpack in anticipation of any development.
The need for early planning was confirmed by the provincial Water Security Agency with the March runoff forecast issued recently, showing Weyburn is on the border of “above-normal” to “well above-normal” flood ranges.
The potential for flooding is highly variable, depending on the spring thaw, weather and further precipitation.
“We believe conditions in 2013 are very different from those that existed in 2011. In 2011, snow levels were high and precipitation levels from the preceding year resulted in almost zero water holding capacity in the system and very little soil absorption,” said Claude Morin, superintendent of public works.
He pointed out last fall was very dry, with the result the reservoir is more than a meter below capacity, and the river channel was at a very low level going into fall and winter.
The department of Public Works is monitoring all conditions, and making preparations for the runoff.
These include updating and reviewing the flood control plan; beginning work to clear lanes and open catch basins while channel clearing will proceed as conditions allow; the Ab Douglas dam and Tatagwa control structures are being inspected and cleared of all snow and debris to ensure proper operation.
In addition, the diking and flood control systems performed as they should in 2011, so the department expects they will do well in 2013; and all equipment and pumps are being serviced.
There were near record snowfalls this winter, and snow removal crews worked hard to keep streets passable, but in some areas there is a significant build-up of snow and ice, so as melting occurs, it will create ruts and ridges.
Crews will be on standby to work on the worst-hit areas as quickly as possible.
The city is reminding residents that they should take steps to protect their properties from flooding, by ensuring sump pumps are in good working order; snow should be kept away from foundations; and rooftops should be cleared of snow whenever possible.
Morin said the city crews have been proactive and working to be prepared for any eventuality.
“Strong planning and early action, coupled with steps that can be taken by property owners, we are confident the spring of 2013 will result in manageable runoff levels and minimal damage,” said Morin.