Three-year flood mitigation project underway in Coaldale

COALDALE, AB – Three groups signed the Malloy Drainage Basin project Friday, officially starting an operation over 20 years in the making.

The Town of Coaldale has had a long history of damaging floods, with significant flooding occurring four times in the past 15 years.

Now, the Town of Coaldale, Lethbridge County and the St Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) are taking action to protect residents and infrastructure.

“This is a great day,” said Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey. “We needed to do this and now it’s finally happened.”

The Malloy Drainage Basin project is to be carried out in three phases. Phase 1 includes rehabilitating parts of the Malloy drain, effectively doubling its size and capacity. Upgrades will also be made to the rural roads that cross the drain.

“Hopefully it will give peace of mind to the residents of Coaldale when the next storm hits and they can feel more at ease,” said Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig.

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The project will also make use of existing wetland in the area. SMRID directs some its water through the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale.

“This place is a natural collection point for surplus surface water runoff,” said Colin Weir, managing director at the Birds of Prey Centre. “When it is released it’s actually much cleaner than when it enters because there are a lot of natural filtration processes that happen with wetlands.”

It’s a unique filtration process that Alberta Environment wants to implement in other places as well.

“Programs like this are about taking a new approach to [water diversion],” said Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips. “Not just using storm water retention ponds but actually using all of nature’s best attributes to have good sustaining wetland projects.”

Construction is set to begin this fall for Phase 1 and is expected to be complete by May 2016. The project has a price tag of an estimated $3.8 million per year over the next three years.

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