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Alberta landowner angry at CP Rail for flooded land

Landowner near Leduc blames CP Rail for flooded property
WATCH: South of Edmonton, recent intense rain covered Derek Di Ciacca's land. He says it's all still there because of CP Rail and a year's worth of culvert delays. Fletcher Kent reports.

Like many people across Alberta, Derek Di Ciacca is dealing with flooding. Unlike many people, he’s blaming a rail company for the problem.

About 12 hectares of his pastureland south of Leduc is underwater. He says the reason for the flooding dates back more than a year to a problem on the nearby CP Rail line.

“I’m fuming mad at CP now,” Di Ciacca said. “When I first was calling CP, I was angry. I’m way past angry now.”

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In June 2018, Di Ciacca says he noticed a sinkhole form above a culvert that ran underneath the CP line that runs next to Highway 2A, south of Leduc.

Crews immediately came and fixed the sinkhole by removing the culvert and filling the hole with gravel.

Di Ciacca says workers told him it would be “a while” before a new culvert was built.

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Culverts are holes that channel water underneath roads or rail lines. The land in the area all drains west, towards the railroad tracks, so when spring arrived, the runoff had nowhere to go. The fields flooded and Di Ciacca says in parts, the water was more than a metre deep.

CP brought in pumps and over the next three weeks and drained the area. Di Ciacca says he then saw more crews arrive and begin work on a new culvert.

“They started drilling. They were here for a couple of weeks. Then all of a sudden they picked up everything and left. I just assumed the job was done.”

Then Di Ciacca looked at what had changed.

“They only went halfway. I went to the other side of the tracks and nothing came out the other side.”

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Recent rains re-filled Di Ciacca’s field. The water isn’t threatening his house but he raises five horses on his land and uses his now-flooded field as a pasture for his animals.

“If they get rid of it really quickly, the grass will grow and I’ll be alright. But if they don’t get things sorted out, I’ll be buying horse feed pretty soon.”

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Watch below (July 19): For Alberta farmers, this growing season has been a tale of two extremes – from too much rainfall to a continuing drought – and it’s impacting crop development. Tom Vernon reports.

Alberta growing season: drought then too much rain
Alberta growing season: drought then too much rain

Three large pumps are parked on the side of the gravel road that runs in front of Di Ciacca’s home. While he showed Global News the flooding, one of the three was again pumping water across the raised rail right-of-way. Di Ciacca says recently, only one pump has been consistently working.

In a statement emailed to Global News, CP Rail said it is aware of this case.

“CP continues to work to resolve this situation. Pumps remain in place and are being used as required.

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“CP has scheduled the remaining work to take place later this week,” the statement reads.

Di Ciacca says that is good news, he just wishes the work happened much sooner.

He notes it took CP mere hours to fix its rail line while he has been dealing with more than a year of flooded fields.