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Ottawa announces $53M for flood mitigation projects in Edmonton

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton is getting a financial boost from the federal government to help keep rainwater off city streets and out of basements. Sarah Kraus reports.

The federal government has committed more than $53 million to flood mitigation measures in Edmonton.

Infrastructure Minister Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne made the announcement in Edmonton’s Parkallen neighbourhood on Monday.

The neighbourhood is one of several in Edmonton that will see the construction of new dry ponds, which collect water during major storms in order to reduce flooding on city streets. They also help relieve the pressure on the city’s pipe systems.

“It would be rainwater that falls, and it gets collected and diverted, and then it would just be stored here and go through pipes,” explained Amanda Rosychuk, senior VP of drainage services for EPCOR.

“This will look like a pond for a period of time. It’s usually a short period of time, maybe 24 hours, and then it will be released.”

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Mayor Don Iveson said it’s a very effective strategy.

“We’ve built a number of these in the city. We know we need to build a lot more and the $53 million from Ottawa will help us carry on that work with reduced impact to ratepayers.”

READ MORE: Flood mitigation under EPCOR could lead to higher utility rates in Edmonton: report

The Parkallen neighbourhood in south Edmonton experienced extensive flooding in 2004 when torrential rain flooded streets, cars and homes.

“This incident took an emotional toll on residents, which were displaced from their homes,” Champagne said Monday.

“There is no denying that the frequency and severity of these events are increasing. And the effects of these extreme weather events don’t go away overnight.”

Iveson grew up in the area and while he had moved out prior to the 2004 flood, he said he remembers driving through the flooded streets to make sure his parents’ home was OK.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton reveals $2.6B plan to reduce flood damage

Two dry ponds will be built in Parkallen’s Ellingson Park. Rosychuk said the ponds are expected to reduce the amount of water pooling in the area by about 84 per cent.

“It has a very large impact on water that would otherwise pool in people’s basements, in the streets, in locations where you just don’t want it to pool.”

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In total, 13 ponds are planned for different areas of the city. The exact locations are still being finalized, but Iveson said they are being selected based on risk level.

“We’re going to need to build many of these around the city to deal with today’s weather, and also in anticipation of more severe storms to come.”

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The federal funding will also be used for improvements to the Rossdale and E.L. Smith water treatment plants. The federal government said work will include the relocation of electrical assets, as well as preventing backflow in the pipes that discharge into the North Saskatchewan River. New embankments will also be built on the water treatment plant properties to reduce on-site flooding.

Improvements and upgrades will also be done on about 30 outfall structures that release storm water into the river to help control heavy water flow.

The funding comes from the federal government’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, a $2-billion, 10-year program to help communities build the infrastructure they need to better withstand natural hazards such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes and droughts.

A full report will be presented to the city’s utility committee in May, with construction expected to start after that.

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