Water is an essential resource and, luckily, one that our communities and residents don’t need to worry about. This is because, everyday, Aquatera works diligently to ensure a clean, safe and reliable water supply.
The Wapiti River is the source of regional drinking water for more than 80,000 people so it is imperative that we protect it. One way we are doing this is through bank stabilization, a method of soil bioengineering.
As spring run-off, drought and environmental events cause our water source to shift course, our pumping facilities, storage ponds and water intakes are threatened. If we are unable to pull water from the Wapiti River and must resort to storage ponds, the City of Grande Prairie, Town of Sexsmith, parts of the County of Grande Prairie, and the Town of Wembley, could experience water restriction within just a few days.
To protect this water infrastructure, three soil bioengineering techniques were implemented in the fall of 2018 to prevent further erosion and stabilize the river banks: Dense Live Staking, Live Gravel Bar Staking and Rough and Loose Soil Treatment.
Dense Live Staking is a technique that involves installing sections of green willow and poplar into the steep bank slope above the storage ponds. The green willow and poplar 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, thereby encouraging sediment decomposition. Inserting sprouted balsam poplar and willow sticks into the ground, we have been able to trap debris and disrupt the flow of water, resulting in the decomposition of sediment and the stabilization of the river bank.
Rough and Loose Soil Treatment is used to control erosion and diversify surface conditions. This technique has allowed us to create ideal conditions to promote re-vegetation and reduce ponding and run-off into our river bank. It also discourages ATV traffic which can cause significant damage through soil compaction.
It is crucial that we protect this essential resource, but we need help and support from our communities.
We ask that ATV motorists refrain from using the recreational trail along the top of the bank area so we can ensure safety and ideal conditions for bank stabilization. We also ask that boaters only use the south channel of the river to protect the restored areas and give the vegetation the best chance for success.
We appreciate everyone’s assistance with this as we continue working to provide trusted quality, valued service and peace of mind to our customers and communities.