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Exshaw Creek interim flood report expected later this month

MD of Bighorn council is hopeful to find out more about the east Exshaw groundwater flood earlier this year, as an interim report from the hydrogeologist is expected at the October council meeting

BIGHORN – An interim report on the groundwater flooding in Exshaw is expected to come to council hopefully later this month.

During the Sept. 8 virtual council meeting, MD of Bighorn Chief Administration Officer Rob Ellis said he is hopeful to receive an interim report on the June groundwater flooding in east Exshaw sometime in September.

"We are hoping to receive it this month, there was a delay because of extra information on groundwater wells that was completed on Aug. 31, so we are waiting for an interim report to be presented," Ellis said.

In a Sept. 9 update on the MD website, officials note the hydrogeologist requested more time.

"The McElhanney hydrogeologist has requested more time to gather and analyze data prior to issuing a report. At this time we do not have a firm date for completion of the groundwater report, but we expect the report in September," the statement reads.

Earlier this year, MD of Bighorn council approved hiring a hydrogeologist were several homes in the east end of Exshaw were unexpectedly flooded with high groundwater levels. Dozens of residents spent weeks pumping thousands of litres of water from the basements, with some estimating up to 50 centimetres of groundwater in their homes.

The report was originally expected in June.

Bighorn Reeve Dene Cooper said last week his understanding is the report was partially delayed due to the scope where it investigates recommended mitigations.

"The water report was anticipated earlier ... [but] part of the scope included the recommendations for mitigations, if possible, for affected houses and streets and, it is my understanding, that takes a little more to study than how we flooded," Cooper said.

When the hydrogeologist was hired days after the flooding started, key questions were given to investigate, including:

• What caused the unusually high groundwater levels in east Exshaw?

• Is the Exshaw Creek flood mitigation structure a cause of the high groundwater levels?

• What could be done to mitigate the groundwater problem?

• What would be the estimated cost of this mitigation?

After the flooding first occurred, several residents voiced concerns about the recently completed flood mitigation work as a possible cause of the groundwater flood. During the June council meeting, Ellis made it clear the hydrogeologist was independent of the engineers behind the Exshaw Creek design and mitigation work.

Since the flooding, the MD of Bighorn has applied for the province's Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) in the hopes of helping residents recovers costs from uninsurable damages, while also exploring municipal property tax relief for the homes affected.

In May, council approved the 2020 Tax Rate bylaw, which included a 2.8 per cent decrease in the municipal residential tax rate and the 2.3 per cent decrease in the non-residential municipal tax rate.


Jenna Dulewich

About the Author: Jenna Dulewich

Jenna Dulewich is a national and provincial award-winning multi-media journalist. Joining the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2019, she covers Stoney Nakoda, MD of Bighorn, Canmore and court.
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