River committee calling for Sundre dam
A newly formed Sundre-based committee comprised of residents, business owners, and other stakeholders living along the Red Deer River from the West Country to Gleniffer Lake is calling for the construction of a dam upstream of Sundre.
The Red Deer River Quality Control Committee has been formed to address the long-term flooding risks facing the communities along the length of the river, says committee director and former MP Myron Thompson.
“We are getting a lot of messages from different individuals who have some expertise who say that we are just one flood always from a major disaster, and that something has to be done,” Thompson said Friday. “There is so much more work to do and we must keep our concerns in front of all three levels of government. We cannot let that ball drop now.
“Not only is valuable agricultural and recreational land being threatened and already lost, there are also many established businesses and homes along with municipal infrastructure in peril, to mention the further protection of our town.
“We plan on working together, bringing people of the community together even more so than they are now, ensuring all levels of government are kept aware of our flooding issues, and proceeding with a manageable, common sense approach to protecting and enhancing our way of life in this community.”
The committee is a citizens’ initiative, not associated with the Town of Sundre, Mountain View County or other government initiative, he noted.
To date the committee is made up of about 16 members, including representatives from the Sundre and District Chamber of Commerce, Sundre residents, people living in Mountain View, Clearwater and Red Deer counties, and others, he said.
Sundre Wild Rose MLA Joe Anglin has expressed support for the committee, said Thompson.
Although the committee has had only two meetings to date, it is already proposing a dam be constructed upstream of Sundre, a move committee members believe would go a long way towards protecting communities along the river course, he said.
During the planning for the construction of the Gleniffer Lake dam in the 1970s, four potential sites were identified for a possible dam upstream of Sundre.
The committee will try to find and review the studies that identified those sites, he said.
“The proposal of a dam would sufficiently alleviate those potential break points (flood danger areas) that this community is so aware and concerned about and allow authorities to better control the river,” he said.
“A dam could be the only proper solution to the many issues facing residents along that stretch of the Red Deer River. A structure such as a dam would provide flood control, future hydro-electric energy sources, and tourism and recreational opportunities.”
“The committee will do further investigation to identify those locations and through scientific research such as fish and wildlife studies, water quality studies, as well as a logical, common sense approach, alternatives that will serve this community now and well into the future can be established.”
The committee is also in favour of upgrading berms upstream of Sundre, he said.
The committee is looking for more public members, and is also asking residents and others to write letters of support for the committee and its initiatives, letters that will be forwarded to various levels of government, he said.
“We are going to get as many letters as we can and petition the governments to get something done with this,” he said. “It’s time that we do something to prevent this flooding.”
Thompson said the committee will be in touch with Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding the flooding danger of the Red Deer River.
Sundre resident John Poirier, Mountain View County resident Ernie Fletcher and Thompson are the spokespersons for the committee.
The committee will be holding a public meeting at the Sundre Museum on August 23 starting at 7 p.m.