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City infrastructure keeps up with melting

Proactive approach minimizing trouble spot, says public works manager

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014 02:00 pm

BIG WAVE – A truck makes waves along Boudreau Road on Sunday as meltwater pools on the roadway. Warm temperatures have caused rapid snow melting but the city reports problems have been minimal.
BIG WAVE – A truck makes waves along Boudreau Road on Sunday as meltwater pools on the roadway. Warm temperatures have caused rapid snow melting but the city reports problems have been minimal.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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St. Albert can thank proactive planning for a minimal number of flooding issues.

When Mother Nature started turning up the thermostat this weekend, causing the snow to start melting, St. Albert public works was already prepared.

“We prepare for weeks in advance,” said Greg Grueber, utilities manager for the city.

Grueber was happy to report that, so far, there appears to be no major issues in St. Albert, even as three schools in Edmonton reported minor flooding and a spring runoff advisory was issued by the province on Monday.

The city tries to address potential problem areas before the forecasted warm temperatures roll in, he said. That means making sure catch basins are free and applying steam to storm outfalls to ensure they aren’t frozen over.

“Our focus is on being proactive,” Grueber said.

He said the occasional spells of warm weather so far this winter meant there’s been less snowpack to melt, as well.

“It’s been fairly kind to us this spring so far,” he said. “We’re dealing with a low number of calls.”

The calls that do come in usually are in the mid-afternoon, with reported problems dropping off as the lower evening temperatures kick in.

When the snow starts to melt, the water appears to be reaching the appropriate catch basins.

“City-wide it’s been managed pretty well,” Grueber said, noting there’s no stand-out trouble spots.

Properly managed, “it’s a non-issue,” Grueber said.

If the forecast shows warm weather on its way, the city brings in more staff ahead of time to get ready.

But if there are problems, residents should contact public works.

“It’s a 24-7 response,” Grueber said, noting the public works office can be reached from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. For after-hours public works-related emergencies, the fire department can be contacted and they’ll dispatch the on-call public works staff.

Public works can be contacted at 780-459-1557.

The warm weather is predicted to last through the end of the week, with the forecasted temperatures hitting double digits Wednesday and Sunday.


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