Rural creeks overflow across roadways

A bridge's south guard-rail manages to block only some of the water that rushes across the roadway near the Wagman residence south-east of Meadow Lake. Doug Murray, manager of public works for the RM assesses the damage during a tour last Thursday. Although the road will be impassable for a while, Murray noted it's cheaper to fix a road than replace a culvert.

By Rhonda Cooper

Following this year’s largest single-day of rainfall from last Wednesday, officials from the Rural Municipality of Meadow Lake visited several areas that bore the scars.

“The flooding started south of town around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, but it really hit Sunday,” said Doug Murray, the RM’s manager of public works.

In the southwest corner of the RM a culvert in the SE quarter of 20-58-18 W 3rd approximately 15 miles southwest of the city gave way, creating an impassible chasm in the road, leaving residents Ken Drumheller and Allen Gardiner with no access. “There were a number of places where water ran over the road but we had only one major washout,” said Murray noting he had checked this particular location Saturday night but sometime early next morning it was gone.

“The water came up over the road and cut out the top of the road,” stated Murray.

Lenn Lennea, RM Road Consultant visited the site, took photos and drew up a repair proposal. Murray and Lennea believe this particular culvert was installed in the 1970s and while the life expectancy of culverts is usually 60 to 70 years, the installation technique used on this one is suspected of contributing to its failure. Once approval is received for the replacement proposal, the goal is to have the new culvert in place by mid-July. In the mean time a quad bridge has been installed for passage, with the plan to create temporary bypass through the ditch for the residents.

Another hot spot checked was the culvert on Rialto Road. Because of the steepness of the banks, debris was cleaned by hand from here twice on Thursday and twice more Friday.

“Saturday night the water had dropped three to four inches and eight more Sunday afternoon,” said Murray. “We are on the downhill slide with the water. But if we get another three inches like they are predicting we’ll be back in trouble again.”

Driving up to a section of grid west of town, marked with a Water on Road sign, Murray noted the channel running in this area had been extensively cleaned last fall. Officially marked on the map as Morin Creek but more commonly referred to locally as Bear Creek, this waterway breached the road but was down to about one-and-one-half feet in depth.

A trip to the Neeb area in the southeast corner of the RM was necessary when a resident informed the office in Meadow Lake that water was covering roadways. Upon arrival at the main culvert, Murray noted this was the highest he had ever seen the water level here in his almost 30 years with the RM.

“The highest before was at least three feet lower.”

The water rushed through the culvert so fast it created white water waves and a substantial roar.

Over at Wagman’s Bridge the effects of the previous week’s precipitation were just being realized. The bridge was immersed, with approximately six inches of water on its deck. Approximately one-quarter mile of road east of the bridge was submerged. Only the metal signs on their eight foot tall posts on the north side were visible.

“I have never seen it this high in this area before,” said Murray. “The water is stretching a long way back here (west side bridge).” The Neeb area appears to be the exception to the general recession of water.

The single washout in the RM trapped residents for a couple days until a quad bridge was built. Once it is ordered, RM officials say the replacement culvert will take two weeks to arrive since large culverts are not stocked, but are custom-made.

Rain and hail

Thursday, June 23 precipitation once again hit the Meadow Lake area. While the city received approximately one-tenth, the southwest section where the washout occurred received more than five inches of precipitation and hail. Despite the downpour, Murray who was out Friday morning noted the washout had not been affected and there had not yet been an increase in the creek level.

Ken Drumheller, one of the affected residents of the washout had insult added to injury when he was caught in the hail storm. “I quadded to town to get some groceries.”

Drumheller was able to leave his home for the first time Wednesday after the quad bridge was installed. Getting home Thursday evening after enduring the hail storm first in the shelter of some trees then at his neighbours, he commented he had never seen so much water in his yard. “The run off is coming too fast.”

Drumheller, an oilfield employee was scheduled to return to work Monday, June 27.

“It’s raining right now so I don’t think I’ll be going. I will get a phone call telling me when to return to work,” he said.

As for his present situation, Drumheller’s brother was bringing him a car Friday.

“I have two half-tons in the yard but can’t get out. I will drive to the barricade where I can leave the truck and then use the car. I have lots of groceries so I’m all right.”

Wayne Oleksuik who farms three miles south of Meadow Lake along Hwy. 4 has little to say about the the flood.

“It is very demoralizing. Every creek out there is full,” he said.

Oleksuik seeded his 600 acres to wheat and canola. “There was so much silt in the water, I don’t know if it will come back. I could lose between 80 and 90 acres.”

Being so late in the season, Oleksuik indicated there is no time to reseed.

“We’re done seeding for the year. We are into our frost free days and we need some heat to bring the crop along,” he said.

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