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Our Three-Pronged Approach to Flood Mitigation

Posted on May. 26 2023

When it comes to flood risk management, the Town of Drumheller has its residents’ safety and well-being at the forefront. Plus, as a region known for its stunning landscapes and rich history, mitigating the risk of flooding is a top priority.

Flooding is Canada’s most frequent natural disaster, not to mention the costliest.  Because of this, Drumheller has implemented a comprehensive defense strategy to protect the community, its residents and their properties from the potential devastation of flood events.

Let’s explore three key components of this strategy: earth berms, floodway buyouts and emergency preparedness.

Earth Berms: Solid Barriers Against the Surge

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.

Floodway Buyouts: Reducing Exposure to Flooding

One of the most effective forms of flood risk management is floodway buyouts, also known as “strategic retreats.” These property buyout programs involve the government acquisition of properties in high-risk neighbourhoods or areas, relocating residents to safer communities.

Buyouts and land acquisitions are considered so effective because they directly reduce exposure to flooding — if residents aren’t near floodways, then their properties and lives aren’t threatened. Additionally, these programs further develop a community’s resilience against a changing climate.

In Drumheller, our two priorities for land acquisition are properties that are in the floodway where no engineering solution can be implemented to protect the properties, and properties that are needed for the improvement or installation of structural measures.

Emergency Preparedness: A Swift and Strategic Response

So, we’ve built robust berms and acquired property in high-risk areas. In addition, the Drumheller Resiliency & Flood Mitigation Office is consistently re-evaluating and enhancing its emergency response plans to protect its residents, property, environment and economy during future flood events in the Drumheller Valley.

These comprehensive plans encompass several critical components, like drafting evacuation maps for different flooding events, designing temporary berms as needed, identifying potential high-risk areas, preparing residents, and keeping staff up to date on emergency response procedures. These preparations enable Drumheller to respond promptly and efficiently during flood events. And that means a safer and more resilient community for our residents.

In Conclusion

This three-pronged approach to flood mitigation — including earth berms, floodway buyouts and emergency preparedness — reflects the town’s commitment to safeguarding its residents, property, environment and economy. With these defense strategies in place, the town is better equipped to address the challenges of flooding, ensuring a safer and more resilient community for everyone.

For questions about flood mitigation and our ongoing mitigation efforts, please contact floodreadiness@drumheller.ca.

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