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Matrix groundwater study expected by March

“I don’t know if collecting another fresh set of data is vital. I am sure from a research perspective every season becomes more useful, but in terms of us finding solutions and starting the process of moving forward, we really need this information in the report to come back to us.”
20200605 Exshaw Floods 0026
The MD of Bighorn has cleared most of the water surrounding the lift station on Friday (June 5). "If the lift station were to flood this whole side of town would have the sewers back up... 75 per cent of the town would be effected,” said Al Hogarth MD Bighorn Utilities Foreman. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO⁠

MD OF BIGHORN – After being delayed for six months, the Matrix groundwater study is expected to be released by March.

The Matrix groundwater study will help the MD better understand the causes of high groundwater flooding, the influence of storms, snowpacks, creeks and the Bow River area.

“The study is pretty much complete from a data collection perspective,” said Doug Fulford, director of flood recovery for the MD of Bighorn at the Jan. 10 MD council meeting. “They have got to the stage now where it is time to do some modelling.”

The modelling will look at the groundwater and surface water as one system. It will investigate what the conditions for the groundwater was before the Exshaw Creek flood mitigation project to determine if the construction of that project had an impact on groundwater behaviour in Exshaw. The report will also look at mitigation.

“What is the best way to deal with that issue,” Fulford said. “That is the information that will be provided in that report.”

The study was approved in September 2021 by council, at a cost of $200,000. Matrix Solutions received $180,000, while Morrison Hershfield received $23,000 for third-party consulting. At the time, it was expected the report would take eight months.

“They have done enough data collection that they are confident that they understand what the groundwater situation is today,” Fulford said. “They want to look at what it was before the construction.”

Frank Besinger, interim CAO for the MD, said that originally Matrix was not releasing the report until the second quarter (Q2) of 2023. However, due to the delay, he pushed for them to release it in the first quarter (Q1).

“My thoughts were on the reporting for Q2, was likely based on the spring runoff,” Besinger said. “Their intention was to report in Q2, but we encouraged them to report in Q1.”

Rosvold expressed her frustration the report was so far behind schedule.

“Q1 is the absolute latest we should be receiving this in my perspective,” Rosvold said.

Council did not find out until late fall the report was not coming until the second quarter of 2023.

“I don’t know if collecting another fresh set of data is vital,” Rosvold said. “I am sure from a research perspective every season becomes more useful, but in terms of us finding solutions and starting the process of moving forward, we really need this information in the report to come back to us.”

In the 2023 budget, $750,000 has been put set aside for stormwater improvements over two years. The money will develop stormwater and groundwater management improvements that will be based on the Matrix groundwater assessment.

Coun. Joss Elford asked if the report in the first quarter was the end of the contract with Matrix.

“Is that the end of their contract, and then we wouldn’t get that data from another year of runoff, or does the information gathering continue?”

Fulford said there would be a presentation to council and the public from Matrix.