Clocking in overtime hours with their snow-clearing efforts, city crews’ focus will soon shift toward mitigating flood risks.
“We always have a focus on -- OK, what are we going to do in the spring and how are going to handle it?” City of Prince Albert operations manager Alain Trudel said.
Hoping the onset of warm weather is “more of a sheep than a lion,” Trudel said that this year’s heavy snowfall has crews concerned about pockets of the city that are prone to flooding.
“(With) the accumulation of snow that we’ve had I wouldn’t want a big rush in temperature because it would make it very difficult for us,” he said.
In preparation for this year’s snow melt of late March or early April, Trudel said that city crews will work to clear snow from areas that face a flood risk.
“We’re in the planning stages of doing some of this work, so you’ll see some of the city equipment in the near future,” he said, noting that Second Avenue West and cul-de-sacs throughout the city will be targeted, alongside other areas identified.
Once snow begins to melt, a top priority for city crews will be the opening up of the city’s many catch basins that lead water downstream.
But, Trudel said that the catch basins, which are usually clogged with debris at this time of year, can’t be opened up too quickly.
“If you open them up too soon and you get a one or two-day melt, then it’ll get into the catch basin and then we go back into cold weather and it’ll freeze,” he explained.
(With) the accumulation of snow that we’ve had I wouldn’t want a big rush in temperature because it would make it very difficult for us. - City of Prince Albert operations manager Alain Trudel
“Once we see there’s going to be a major melt coming up, we open up those catch basins to catch the higher flows.
“It’s somewhat played by ear. We rely on weather forecasts considerably, and then we go from there.”
The city also receives a number of calls every spring from residents who have concerns about flooding around their properties.
Although crews are receptive to residents’ calls, Trudel cautions people to not over-exaggerate their flood concerns. With limited city crews facing a more significant than average flood threat due to this year’s heavy snowfall, crews need to focus their efforts on where the greatest needs are.
Although the initial snow melt will bump up the North Saskatchewan River’s level a bit, the highest level tends to come in June, when snow melt from the west makes its way through the area.
Last June, high turbidity levels on the North Saskatchewan River threatened the city’s water treatment plant, with city manager Robert Cotterill cautioning the public that the plant might be forced to temporarily shut down.
With the water treatment plant performing well throughout the ordeal, Trudel said that he has no water quality concerns going into the spring.