The City of Weyburn has been and continues to be preparing for an above normal spring runoff as the unusually persistent winter hangs on. While the impact of the runoff will be determined by the pace of melting this spring, steps have been taken to mitigate the impact of the significant snowpack in anticipation of any development.
The prudence of the early planning was confirmed by the Provincial Water Security Agency in its potential spring runoff/flood forecast for the Weyburn area issued this week. Weyburn sits on the border of the above normal and well above normal flood ranges. According to the report, the potential for flooding is highly variable, depending on spring thaw, weather and further precipitation.
"We believe conditions in 2013 are very different from those that existed in 2011," said Claude Morin, Superintendent of Public Works. "In 2011 snow levels were high and precipitation levels from the preceding year resulted in almost zero water holding capacity in the system and very little soil absorption."
"Last summer and fall conditions were very dry, as a result our reservoir is more than a meter below capacity and the river channel itself was at a very low level as we entered the fall and winter. This should greatly reduce the potential of ice jamming," he noted.
Public Works is closely monitoring all conditions and making preparations to deal with any scenario. The flood control plan is being updated and reviewed, work has already begun to clear lanes and open catch basins while channel clearing will proceed as conditions permit. The Ab Douglas Dam and Tatagwa control structures are being inspected and cleared of all snow and debris to ensure proper operation. All equipment and pumps are being serviced and diking and flood control systems performed as they were designed to do in 2011 so expectations are they will cope well with the 2013 spring thaw.
The winter of 2012/13 saw near record snow falls. Snow removal crews worked hard to keep streets passable but in many areas there is significant build up of snow and ice so melting will create ruts and ridges. Residents should expect some streets will be in poor condition for a week or two. Crews will be on standby to address the worst hit areas as quickly as possible. Even with these precautions, however, we know all of us will have to exercise patience through this process.
The City of Weyburn is reminding residents of steps that local residents can take to protect their properties from flooding by ensuring sump pumps are in good working condition, keeping snow away from building foundations and clearing rooftops of snow.
"Although this winter has lasted longer than usual and has brought significant snowfall, the City of Weyburn heeded the early signals of an above-average runoff and has been proactive in preparing for any eventuality," said Morin. "Strong planning and early action, coupled with steps that can be taken by property owners, we are confident the spring of 2013 will result in manageable runoff levels and minimal damage."