Planting under way for stormpond wetland

planting - Representatives of the Town of Claresholm recently toured the stormwater ponds in the south part of town where planting is currently under way to make them into wetlands. They also had the opportunity to do some planting themselves. From left are Grant Bishop, the town's acting director of infrastructure; Nancy Green of the town's engineers; Blair Bullock, the town's director of corporate services; Lise Schulze, town councillor; Marian Carlson, the town's chief administrative officer; Reeve Maryanne Sandberg of the Municipal District of Willow Creek, who partnered on a portion of the project; Craig Zimmer and Gaven Moore, town councillors; and contractors Jill King, Cody Shearer and Steven Bos. Photo by Rob Vogt

Flood mitigation

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer

The stormwater ponds in the south part of Claresholm just north of the acreages east of Eighth Street are coming to life.

Last week, contractors toured representatives of the Town of Claresholm through the stormwater retention ponds and showed the planting that is under way at the ponds to create wetlands.

They also gave representatives a chance to do some planting of their own.

Nancy Green is with the town’s engineers, and she was impressed with the stormwater facility.

“It’s one of the largest south of Calgary,” she said.

The facility has four ponds on 80 acres, and will provide up to 175,000 cubic metres of stormwater storage.

“It’s pretty nice to see it come to life,” Green said. “It’s really nice to see a project come together.”

The Town of Claresholm received more than $5.3 million in 2016 through the Alberta Community Resilience Program for the stormwater retention facility and improvements to the Eighth Street drainage ditch.

Shannon Phillips, minister of environment and parks, was unable to attend but sent a message.

“Strong stormwater management is critical as our government works to improve the flood resiliency of communities in southern Alberta. Our investment in the Frog Creek Stormwater Management Facility will help protect families, homes and businesses in Claresholm while also ensuring local infrastructure isn’t overwhelmed during severe rainfall events,” she said.

The town also worked with the Municipal District of Willow Creek on a Community Partnership grant that secured $350,000 in funding.

Marian Carlson, the town’s chief administrative officer, said the project recognizes the impact of stormwater going through the town into the M.D. and the Frog Creek drainage corridor.

This past spring, the facility was used extensively to deal with water.

“It made significant improvements to spring run-off,” Carlson said. “There was little to no damage on Frog Creek.”

Green was in town to see the ponds in action for herself, observing all four were full of water.

“They did their job,” she said.

Now planting is under way to turn the ponds into wetlands.

Well over 100,000 plants will be planted, including 95 trees of several varieties such as poplar, aspen and white spruce.

Much of the plant life is also native to the Willow Creek area.

The plants will help with treatment of stormwater downstream and help control soil erosion too.

The official sod-turning ceremony for the construction of the stormwater management facility was held on Nov. 23, 2016.

This facility will ensure flood events are mitigated through the Town of Claresholm Stormwater Management Plan to protect the residents and be mutually beneficial to neighbouring residents in the M.D.

Construction of the Frog Creek Stormwater Management Facility is scheduled to wrap up by Oct, 2018.

The town initiated an overall stormwater management plan after the floods of June, 2014. In fact, engineers were modelling water flows during the flooding.

The goal was to address flooding in town and downstream in the M.D. of Willow Creek.