The Dickson Dam on the Red Deer River west of Drumheller is about to get a facelift.
The Federal and Alberta Governments have announced close to $30 million for three flood disaster mitigation projects.
"We're basically looking at upgrading the service spillway: the service spillway is what we use to pass flood flows typically, it's the big concrete spillway," explained Rick Friedl with the Operations and Infrastructure branch of Alberta Environment. "We have a number of what we call fuse plugs off to the side and those are the things that will actually over top and blow out to prevent the main dam from failing if you get a really massive flood event."

"If the service spillway is fully open and is passing as much water as it possibly can, but the reservoir is continuing to rise, then it over tops what we call these fuse plugs first and it will release a slug of water down the river so that the main dam doesn't over top with water," he elaborated.

The amount of water required to put the Dickson Dam in jeopardy is huge, about 2,600 cubic meters per second. By way of comparison, the 2005 flood that nearly inundated Drumheller saw a flow of 1,550 m/p/s.

"Anything that exceeds the capacity of the current spillway, the current service spillway, would go through those fuse plugs," outlined Friedl. "We're adding a third one, and it would be the last one to go out: the likelihood of that one ever having to be activated is extremely low. This is insurance."

The other flood control projects to receive money are the Jensen Dam near Cardston and flood mitigation structures along Exshaw Creek on the road to Banff. The Federal Government's share is just under $13.5 million, while the provincial portion is a little over $16.5 million.


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