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City to spend additional $885K on Bear River control structure maintenance

The Muskoseepi Park reservoir in Grande Prairie will remain without water for the rest of the summer, as the city undertakes a project to fix structural issues with the system. City council approved an additional $885,067 in funding for the repairs, bringing the total amount of funding to $2.21 million.

Development Engineer Mike Harvard says this work is part of a larger project that the city has been chipping away at.

“In 2020 and rolling into 2021, the city was undertaking a dam safety review. That is a provincial requirement of the city as the owner and operator of the dam to undertake once every ten years. As a result of that study, there are a series of maintenance items and deficiencies that needed to be addressed.”

Towards the end of 2021, the city retained a consultant to undertake the detail design. Following the detail design, the city put the work out for tender. The estimate for repairs came in at a price higher than expected.

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“That’s the reason we approached city council for the additional funding. The cost of the materials and labour needed drastically changed due to inflation and supply chain issues,” he says.

While there won’t be water in the reservoir for a while, Harvard is optimistic that the repairs could be finished sooner rather than later.

“Our current schedule with the contractor has the repairs taking place before the end of the year. We’re hoping tentatively by the beginning of November,” he says.

No water in the reservoir is something that the city experienced last year. That is caused by different factors.

“In years when we have very low flow from upstream, either the levels in Bear Creek are quite low or we’re not getting a lot of flow coming through the north through Grande Prairie Creek. Bear Creek itself will have a very low amount of water in it and it won’t be enough to allow us to hold any water back to keep the reservoir full,” he says.

Additional repairs are needed in the next three to five years, according to Harvard.

“Based on the review, in the future, there are some smaller items that at this time can wait. We will group them together into a larger contract. They are lower priority items. As we undertake our annual inspections, any other items found will be grouped into a single tender to be addressed in the future.”

Once the repairs are undertaken, the City of Grande Prairie hopes to return to its regular water schedule. Throughout the winter, the water levels will be lower, and the gates are kept open. In the spring, the gates are closed and will return the water level to what is expected in the summer.

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