Recent large snowfalls in the area have residents north of Prince Albert thinking about spring.
Last year the Rural Municipality of Buckland saw some of the worst flooding in its history due to large amounts of snow, a quick thaw, and the opening of the Anglin Lake dam. This year, local authorities say they won’t be caught flat-footed.
“We are better prepared this year,” RM division two Coun. Linda Clavelle says. “We’ve got new ditches built since last year. We’ve got two ditches totally completed and ready for the spring thaw and another one almost finished.”
The main ditch is in the west side of the RM, along Whitfield, Gardener and White Star roads. The other two are in the east along Lempeurer Road and Highway 2. Clavelle says they also plan to start work on a fourth ditch in the south, around Spruce Home.
“What water we can move away from our roads and into the river system has been accomplished, so we’re expecting it to be a much better spring.”
Clavelle says they’ve worked closely with the Water Security Agency (WSA) to make sure they don’t have a repeat of last year. They recently hosted a meeting between Water Security employees and Buckland ratepayers to help local residents prepare for the spring.
It’s a difficult task because, at this point, everyone is unsure about what to expect over the next few months.
“Everybody’s best guessing, Water Security included.”
Clavelle says the WSA predicted precipitation levels would be up to 200 per cent higher than normal this winter, but precipitation levels themselves aren’t enough to form an accurate picture.
“Flooding depends upon how quickly it melts, what the thaw is going to be like, and if we get any more snow or precipitation between now and then, so we really don’t have a prediction,” Clavelle says.
The WSA is scheduled to make the trip to Buckland on Thursday to evaluate the situation further. Further changes and decisions will be made later.
The RM is home to more than 3,500 people. Last year it saw so much flooding that it declared a state of emergency. Clavelle says that level of flooding is abnormal for the area, but if it does happen again, they’ll be as prepared as they can be.
“Anywhere the water’s going to run, (road crews) try to get ready for it before the melt even starts,” Clavelle says. “We’ll be in pretty good shape this year I think.”
Despite the uncertainty, Clavelle maintains a lighter perspective as the thaw approaches.
“Hopefully it’s not a newsworthy spring,” she says with a chuckle.