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Abbotsford council looking at ‘hybrid’ option to mitigate Sumas Prairie flooding

Click to play video: 'Sumas Prairie flood mitigation plan to be presented Monday' Sumas Prairie flood mitigation plan to be presented Monday
On Monday, Abbotsford Council will hear the new flood mitigation plan for Sumas Prairie, while both the provincial and federal governments are pledging the money to fund the project will be available. Aaron McArthur reports – Jun 10, 2022

Following public engagement with residents, farmers and business owners, City of Abbotsford staff will be presenting a preferred flood risk reduction and mitigation option to Abbotsford City Council for their consideration on Monday, June 13.

The public was presented with four draft options on April 4 that ranged in protection level, cost and infrastructure options.

In April and May, Abbotsford residents, businesses and neighbouring governments had the opportunity to learn more about each option and share their feedback on what matters most to them through information sessions and surveys.

Read more: Months after flooding, Sumas Prairie residents frustrated by lack of government funds

Through this feedback, city staff learned that top three priorities for Abbotsford participants were:

  1.   Avoiding damage to buildings, barns and other infrastructure.
  2.   Preserving existing land for agriculture and food security.
  3.   Maximizing opportunities for agriculture.

In total, more than 50 per cent of Sumas Prairie respondents preferred the option of adding a narrow floodway, enhancements to the Barrowtown Pump Station and more new pump stations.

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Click to play video: 'Four options set before Abbotsford city council to mitigate flooding' Four options set before Abbotsford city council to mitigate flooding
Four options set before Abbotsford city council to mitigate flooding – Apr 3, 2022

“New dykes would be constructed on both sides of the Sumas River, extending along the border, and will create a narrow floodway through Sumas Prairie West,” wrote city staff in its mitigation options report.

“This option also includes the construction of a new Sumas River pump station and three pump stations in Sumas Prairie West, as well as upgraded resiliency to Barrowtown Pump Station.”

“The intent of this option is to impact the least amount of agricultural land, residential properties and businesses.”

Read more: ‘This has to be done’: Abbotsford moves ahead on costly flood prevention plans

With this public feedback, the city has now created a “new preferred option” which is a hybrid of some key infrastructure enhancements and flood mitigation concepts.

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“Implementing this new hybrid option would enhance the City’s existing flood protection system while maximizing agricultural land and food security, and minimizing the number of impacted properties,” City of Abbotsford staff said.

The specifics of this “hybrid” plan include:

  • New dykes would be constructed through Sumas Prairie West, extending along the border, with Marshall Creek being separated from Nooksack overflow.
  • A new narrow designated floodway to the Sumas and Fraser Rivers via a new Sumas River Pump Station.
  • Additional water storage and a new environmental area will be created by relocating the dyke along the north side of Highway 1.
  • Three new pump stations in Sumas Prairie West, resiliency improvements to Barrowtown Pump Station, and replacing temporary works with permanent works along Sumas Dyke.

The plan for this new preferred option will be used to inform funding discussions with senior levels of government, according to the city.

Read more: Abbotsford flood protection plans ranging from $200M to $2.8B head to council

City of Abbotsford staff say officials met with the province, City of Chilliwack, Fraser Valley Regional District and Whatcom County, as well as the cities of Everson and Sumas in Washington State.

Officials also met with Semá:th, Màthexwi and Leq’á:mel First Nations leadership, and plan on having more in-depth conversations about how best to protect the area from possible flooding events.

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There is no estimated cost for this flood mitigation option at this time.

Interested residents can watch the city council presentation at 3 p.m. on June 13, on the city’s website.

Click to play video: 'B.C. River Forecast Centre updates flood risk situation' B.C. River Forecast Centre updates flood risk situation
B.C. River Forecast Centre updates flood risk situation – Jun 9, 2022

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