Edmonton looks at reconnecting Mill Creek to North Saskatchewan River

The North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, July 9, 2015. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

The city is taking a look at whether it is realistic to reconnect an Edmonton waterway to the North Saskatchewan River.

Last month, it released a Non-Contract A Request for Proposal (NRFP) for a Mill Creek daylighting technical study.

A technical feasibility study is needed to uncover the potential costs of daylighting, the act of re-establishing rivers, creek and streams. The goal of the study is to determine the feasibility and constraints of daylighting, identify obstacles to implementation related to the proposed LRT route and explore possibilities for aquatic and wildlife passage. The study will develop three restoration plans.

Mill Creek is a tributary to the North Saskatchewan River but after historic construction and urban development, the creek is “functionally disconnected from the North Saskatchewan River and no longer supports surface flows directly to the river.”

Instead, the creek now flows underground and discharges through a culvert upstream of its original discharge point.

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“The alterations to the creek within the city have resulted in the loss of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem functions, reduced recreational opportunities and diminished watershed health,” reads the NRFP.

The city said reconnecting the creek and the river is a key priority “for enhancing and supporting Edmonton’s ecological network.”

It said restoration will improve water quality, provide flood mitigation, support biodiversity and provide recreational and cultural opportunities.

A report on the matter heads to council Dec. 15.

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