May 9, 2019
GRANDE PRAIRIE – Aquatera is seeking public assistance and community support to protect the existing infrastructure adjacent to the Wapiti River, the regional source of drinking water for more than 80,000 people in the Grande Prairie region.
“Active river bank erosion and environmental events are causing our water source to shift course, increasing risks to the communities we serve,” says Ralph Wohlgemuth, Engineering Services Manager at Aquatera. “If we are unable to pull water from the Wapiti River and must resort to the storage ponds, the City of Grande Prairie, Town of Sexsmith, parts of the County of Grande Prairie and, soon, the Town of Wembley, could experience water restrictions within just a few days.”
To protect this raw water infrastructure, three soil bioengineering techniques were implemented in the fall of 2018 to prevent further erosion, stabilize the river banks and direct flow to the south river channel: Dense Live Staking, Live Gravel Bar Staking and Rough and Loose Soil Treatment.
Dense Live Staking is a technique that involves installing sections of Willow and Balsam Poplar into the steep bank slope above the storage ponds which will regenerate to remove excess soil moisture and provide soil stabilization through their root network.
Live Gravel Bar Staking is used to mitigate erosion by decreasing water velocities and encourage sediment decomposition in the north channel. This will ultimately divert flow from the north channel into the south channel.
“By inserting Willow and Balsam Poplar into the ground, we have been able to trap debris and disrupt the flow of water, resulting in the deposition of sediment and the stabilization of the river bank,” said Wohlgemuth.
The third method implemented, Rough and Loose Soil Treatment, is used to control erosion and create ideal conditions to promote re-vegetation and reduce ponding and run-off into our river bank.
“It is critical that we protect the Wapiti River and our raw water infrastructure, but we can’t do it without the help of our communities,” says Wohlgemuth. “We must work together to ensure the success of this project and the future of our communities.”
Aquatera is asking that boaters only use the south channel of the river to protect the restored areas and give the vegetation the best chance for success, and that ATV motorists refrain from using the trail along the top of the north bank area to ensure safety and ideal conditions for bank stabilization.
For more information on this project visit www.aquatera.ca/riverprotection.
Aquatera Utilities Inc. is the Grande Prairie region’s provider of water, wastewater and solid waste services. Its core purpose is helping grow healthy communities and aims to have the best people providing the best service for the best value.
Public Relations and Communications Specialist
Aquatera Utilities Inc.