ALBERTA

Snow Melt Causes Headaches In Edmonton And Calgary

03/11/2014 06:18 EDT | Updated 03/11/2014 06:59 EDT

As temperature rise across Alberta, so are massive pools of water, sending crews and homeowners scrambling to keep localized flooding at bay and water away from basements.

Road crews in Edmonton, Calgary and beyond are working around the clock to keep pooling water under control and drainage crews are responding to calls about blocked sewers and overflowing catch basins.

Derek Melmoth, director of drainage operations for the City of Edmonton, told the Edmonton Sun hundreds of calls have been fielded since Saturday and crews are currently experiencing several days of work ahead of them.

Large pools of water caused by melting snow and ice, along with several burst water mains have kept crews hopping.

"There's been a large number of water main breaks this year, and in some key locations -- they are always a nuisance when the weather gets warmer," Melmoth told the Sun, adding that residents may see more water main breaks as temperatures rise.

Crews, Melmoth told the Edmonton Journal, are tackling ice, snow and water buildup with picks, shovels and axes, but in some cases heavy-duty equipment has been brought in to suck up and flush out water.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson also encouraged residents to help out in their neighbourhoods.

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development issued an emergency alert Monday, warning of overland flooding due to rapid snow melt across the province.

"The generally cool spring conditions combined with the heavy snowfalls...has resulted in a plains snowpack that is much above average in the central, southern, and Peace regions of the province, that has not had the opportunity to melt gradually. Typical snow melt in Alberta occurs with gradually warming air temperatures, as opposed to the sudden and sustained increases in temperatures that are expected over the next week," the alert read.

Meanwhile in Calgary, residents in several neighbourhoods have been working around the clock to keep water out of their basements.

"At this point, it's just trying to keep snow and water away from that side of my house where it was coming in until summer," Southwood resident Krista Beavis told CBC Calgary, after her basement experienced some flooding Sunday afternoon.

As of Monday, the City of Calgary had received more than 1,200 calls about frozen catch basins.

Crews are working first to stop water from entering homes, garages and businesses, the city said in a release, and said additional crews have been brought in.

“If you find there is a problem with a catch basin, the city does not advise that you try to clear it yourself as you cannot see potential hazards under the water's surface.”

Second in priority are open manholes, playground and hospital zones and bus and handicap zones, followed by flooded roadways and intersections.

However, officials say that for the moment major rivers are not expected to experience a dramatic increase in water levels, alleviating some concerns that flooding similar to June 2013's deluge are on the way.

“I’m wondering if this might be spring. Maybe our seasons actually came in order this year?” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told Global Calgary Monday.

“We are getting some localized flooding. I don’t think it’s havoc. but we are getting some localized pooling.”

The City recommends those concerned about flooding shovel ice away from their foundations and ensure eavestroughs are clear of ice and debris.

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