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Behind the Scenes: A Look at the Engineering Behind Local Flood Control Measures 

Posted on May. 26 2023

Drumheller, Alberta has a long history of flooding, with several major floods occurring in the town's past. To help mitigate against damage from future flood events, the town has invested in a range of flood control measures, from berms to stormwater management systems and diversion channels. But what goes into designing and engineering these flood control measures, and how do they work to protect the town from flooding? In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the engineering behind local flood control measures. 

Designing and Building Berms 

Berms are some of the most common flood control measures used in Drumheller. These structures are designed to provide a barrier between floodwaters and the town's infrastructure, private land, homes, and businesses, helping to prevent flooding in low-lying areas. Berms are typically made of compacted soil. 

The design of these structures is critical to their effectiveness in preventing flooding. Engineers must take into account a range of factors, such as the water level for the design flood, the height and width of the berm, the type and strength of the materials used, and the potential impact of floodwaters on the structure including the potential for erosion and seepage. To ensure that these structures are built to withstand the force of floodwaters, engineers may use computer simulations to test their designs before construction begins. 

Managing Stormwater 

Another key component of flood control in Drumheller is the management of stormwater. Stormwater management systems are designed to collect and store excess water during heavy rainfall events, helping to mitigate flooding in the town's streets and homes. These systems may include overland drainage channels, pipes, and retention ponds, and must be carefully designed to handle the specific needs of the town. 

Engineers must take into account a range of factors when designing stormwater management systems, including the size and shape of the area draining to the system (also known as the catchment or drainage area), the type of soil and vegetation used, and the amount of rainfall expected in the area. The goal is to create a system that can efficiently collect and store stormwater, while also ensuring that excess water is safely discharged away from the town's infrastructure. 

Diverting Floodwaters 

Diversion channels are another important flood control measure used in Drumheller. These channels are designed to redirect floodwaters away from the town and convey flow directly to the rivers and creeks of Drumheller. The design of diversion channels is critical to their effectiveness, as they must be able to handle large volumes of water and prevent erosion and other forms of damage. 

Engineers must carefully analyze the topography of the area when designing diversion channels, taking into account factors such as the slope of the land and the potential impact of floodwaters on the channel's walls. They may also use computer simulations to complete their designs and ensure that the channel will be effective in conveying the design flood flows. 


The engineering behind local flood control measures is complex and multi-faceted, requiring careful planning, design, and construction. From berms to stormwater management systems and diversion channels, each of these flood control measures plays a critical role in protecting Drumheller from flooding. By understanding the engineering behind these measures, we can better appreciate the effort and expertise that goes into ensuring the safety and well-being of our community. 



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