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MD of Bonnyville monitoring water levels

The MD of Bonnyville announced June 12 that the Lessard Bridge would be closed due to the high water levels. Photo submitted.

BONNYVILLE – The MD of Bonnyville is keeping a close eye on the water levels throughout the municipality after a wet spell.

The Lessard Bridge has been closed to traffic and pedestrians due to the water being high, along with several roads including Rge. Rd. 490 north of Hwy. 55 and Twp. Rd. 644 at Rge. Rd. 475 because of washouts.

MD Reeve Greg Sawchuk noted there are roughly 15 roads closed or with caution signs on them throughout the municipality.

“It was a delayed reaction as the rain that fell on the fields slowly makes its way off into the ditches and then makes its way to the river or creek because all the creeks are incredibly high again and a number of ditches overflowed what they could handle,” he detailed.

When it came to the Lessard Bridge, Sawchuk noted the water “went as high as the bottom of the bridge.”

Abid Malik, general manager of infrastructure services for the MD, said his department is waiting for the water to recede to see what kind of damage was caused to the bridge.

“As soon as they can inspect it and determine if any repairs need to be done, we will have a better idea of when we can open the bridge,” he said in a press release.

Sawchuk stressed the decision was made to ensure the safety of residents.

“There’s no way, with the road being undercut, that we could allow traffic to still go across that,” he noted. “We’re going to have to wait for the water to go down and then the engineers will have to have a look at it. Hopefully, everything’s still good.”

Roads and bridges aren’t the only part of the MD being closely monitored.

According to general manager of environmental and protective services Matt Janz, between five and 10 per cent of fields in the municipality still have water in them.

“There was definitely some damage done by all the moisture, but it could have been a lot worse.”

When the rain began, Janz recalled ranchers feared what kind of problems it would cause.

“We were scared that maybe there was going to be some damage to the crops, to those seeded acres being washed away because it was just at that time where germination had just happened and maybe the roots were going to be exposed,” he detailed. “But, right now, it’s not as bad as it could have been.”

If the forecast calls for more rain and not as many sunny days, council has the option to call a local state of emergency, which would let the provincial government know how hard the area is hit.

“There’s a lot of criteria that the province has set when they do say ‘okay, well has this area received the excess amount of moisture or not enough moisture?’ There could be the opposite conditions, and then they go to the crop insurance and look at the data, moisture data, and they look into a whole bunch of variables,” Janz explained. “That’s why we’re thinking that right now we don’t quite meet that criteria and that’s why we’re reserving that for now unless things get worse.”

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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