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Adaptable river breakup flood protection system piques mayor’s interest

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Adaptable river breakup flood protection system piques mayor's interest

Mayor Melissa Blake is intrigued by an adaptable flood wall protection system // Chris Vandenbreekel - Harvard Broadcasting

With the provincial government mandating that developments in flood-prone areas be built to withstand a 1-in-100 year flood, the RMWB is looking for the best way to protect the lower townsite.

Mayor Melissa Blake and others had their interest piqued by an idea brought forward during a presentation at council on Tuesday night. During his detailed report on river breakup flood mitigation, Deputy CAO Kevin Scoble presented a series of “alternative” options to the traditional use of roadways and trails as flood breaks.

One of those options is an adaptable, demountable flood wall system. The wall uses concrete barriers that are permanently installed along the river. When flood season approaches, metal posts are attached to the barriers along with aluminum panels to keep the water at bay. The system is customizable to accommodate whichever height is needed for protection.

The adaptable flood wall protective system has been employed in Germany // Photo via IBS

The adaptable flood wall protective system has been employed in Germany // Photo via IBS

The flood walls have been employed along the Danube in Germany, helping protect several communities.

“It’s a heck-of-a good solution,” Blake told Fort McMurray Matters.

The mayor says with uncertainty surrounding what federal standards for floodplain development will be, it doesn’t make sense to spend more money building roadways higher if the requirements end up being higher.

“Every change they make is more dollars and burden on this region,” she said. “The slat wall does incredible things without that huge burden of cost.”

DCAO Scoble said the cost of the system would be $65 million dollars to protect the lower townsite to a 1-in-100 year level of 250 metres. Should the federal government mandate that the requirement is 1-in-200 years, the concrete could stay while the panels and posts are built higher.

“It’s an amazing system,” Blake said. “If it’s something we can investigate and find out if it’s going to work for us, I think it’ll take care of problems for a long time into the future.”

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