Days of rain equals minor flooding in Slave Lake area

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The big weekend of rain – June 6 – 8 – did cause some flooding in the Slave Lake area. But it was not nearly as bad as some had feared.

Marten Beach residents, in particular, are on edge after two successive summers of bad flooding. The creek was high this time around, but stayed within its banks.

Not so at Eating Creek, east of Slave Lake. This is the waterway that gives residents and the M.D. the most trouble of all. It seems to take very little to exceed its capacity. This time, water did some damage to a driveway or two on Eating Creek North as overflow water rushed along the ditch finding an alternate route to lower country to the north. The extensive (and expensive) repairs the M.D. has done along Poplar Lane in recent years held. Water was also running down the Poplar Lane ditch away from the creek toward West Mitsue Road, but the new culverts there seemed to handle it.

Mooney Creek, west of Slave Lake, did its usual thing, which was escaping to run down the ditches of Sawridge Road. But again, no damage to speak of.

Marvin Schneider of the M.D. told The Leader on June 8 there were no other problem areas to speak of in the M.D. The Athabasca and Pembina Rivers were high, he said, but not causing any concern. The same went for the creeks in the southeastern parts of the M.D. The municipality had hoes at key bridges, removing debris.

Big Lakes County had not experienced any overland flooding as of the morning of June 9, according to Victoria Zahacy.

Meanwhile, Lesser Slave Lake – already quite high – got even higher. Two feet higher than it was last year at the same time, said one Marten Beach resident, who keeps an eye on such things. The evidence is there for all to see in Lesser Slave River above the weir. Boat docks at Roland on the River were nowhere near the shore on June 8 and the water was creeping into the parking area by the campground office. However it was not nearly as high as in 1996/97, when you could float your boat right into the heart of the campground.

Slave Lake the town was relatively free of problems during the two days of rain, but that’s not the whole story. The town’s new high-volume pump was put into action in an area of the northeast that is chronically afflicted by flooding and it worked.

“In a few hours that thing pretty much paid for itself,” says mayor Tyler Warman.

When it rains heavily, the area around 6th Ave. and 6th St. NE tends to get swamped. Normally it requires the hiring of several vacuum trucks, going full out to deal with it, at considerable expense to the town. The new heavy-duty pump approved in last year’s budget can pump as much in one minute as it takes a vac truck 24 minutes to accomplish, says Calvin Couturier, the town’s public works manager.

Couturier says he’ll sometimes have six to eight vac trucks hired (at a rate of about $200 per hour), working several hours to keep up with the flood in the northeast.

“You do the math,” he says.

How much did it rain?
Generally speaking, rainfall south of Lesser Slave Lake was higher in the June 6 – 8 rain event than north of it. Thanks to Leah Lovequist of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, we’ve got some figures to back up that impression.

The Flattop fire lookout tower south of Slave Lake recorded 58.8 millimetres, or 2.31 inches. House Mountain south of Kinuso got about the same.

Marten Mountain tower got 39.2 mm (1.54 inches) in the same period, which partly explains why Marten River more or less behaved itself this time around. It was a far cry from the 7.5 inches that bucketed down on the Marten Hills July 23 – 26, 2019.

Muskwa tower recorded 55 mm (2.16 inches). However most of that would flow into the Wabasca River system. Meridian tower – further east in the Marten Hills, received 53 mm.

The Town of Slave Lake’s new workhorse pump, doing the job of half a dozen vacuum trucks.
Washed out on Monday…………………….
Fixed on Tuesday………. a driveway on Range Rd. 53 in the Eating Creek area.
Marten River wasn’t over its banks, but was still eating away at the banks.

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