An extended period of record water flows are expected in Swift Current as a rapid spring melt continues to work its way into waterways feeding the Swift Current Creek.
Swift Current Fire Chief Ryan Hunter provided a flooding update earlier this afternoon, highlighting that flood levels have been on par with recent floods experienced in 1997 and 2011.
“We are estimating that the water flow coming through the City of Swift Current is going to remain at peak levels for the next 10 to 14 days,” he explained earlier today. “We have been receiving maximum flows of water that have been melting through the Swift Current Basin and through the Duncairn Dam system.”
“Both of those previous events we did have low lying areas that flooded and people that needed to be evacuated. Our Infrastructure and Operations Division in the City of Swift Current have done an excellent job engineering a more secure water channel that we can flow more water through our city without having to evacuate people.”
He reminded that residents in low lying areas remain under ‘evacuation notice’ and that status remains in effect despite the early success of their their efforts.
Fire Chief Hunter noted that weather has had both positive and negative impacts on flooding levels.
“What we are seeing is the cooler weather at night slows down some of the melt, and it appears that we’re gaining and the water levels will go down approximately a foot to a foot and half. And once the warm weather during the day hits those water levels rise again. So we definitely have to continue on with the maximum flow.”
Future weather will certainly be adding to the management efforts, with double digit temperatures forecast for Sunday and Monday, followed by the forecast arrival of Southern rainfall between Tuesday and Thursday.
“We are on the western edge of that system and it is expected to drop some more snow which is obviously going to be more precipitation,” he said. Water levels will be monitored on an hour by hour basis in order to best synchronize flows and releases of water in the coming days.
The City of Swift Current is working with the Water Security Agency, who are determining the water release rates from Duncairn Dam.
“They’re getting fed more water from spring runoff that is coming from the Cypress Hills region. So they’re expecting more inflow of water, and the more inflow they get the more they have to release that we have to flow through our City.”
In a press release earlier today, the Water Security Agency shared that water runoff flows had been occurring at a range of 75 and 100 cubic metres per second. However, they had been keeping releases from Duncairn Dam to a minimum and were diverting some water around the City using the Swift Current Main Canal.
Fire Chief Hunter also issued a reminder for the public to stay away from the creek.
“The water is moving at such a fast pace, and the currents are far stronger than we normally see. So the danger levels of being around the creek right now are extremely high.”