City preparing to assess flood damage after North Sask. River hits highest water levels in 34 years

Parts of Little Red River Park and the Rotary Trail have flooded after ice breakup and spring runoff created some of the highest water levels in Prince Albert history.

The North Saskatchewan River swelled to 6.584 meters in depth at 11:20 a.m. on Sunday while the water flow hit 2,870 cubic meters per second. Prince Albert city officials say that’s the highest level they’ve recorded since 1986.

That led to flooding on both the northern and southern shores of the river, and in Little Red River Park. The flooding also washed away some handrails, and damaged portions of the Rotary Trail. Prince Albert’s public works director Wes Hicks says they aren’t sure how much repairs will cost, or when they can start assessing the damage.

“It could be a couple of days. It could be a week,” Hicks said on Monday. “When it gets down a little farther, then the ice has got to melt off the shorelines and the slopes. We’ve got to see if they’ve stabilized because right now they’d be saturated…. There’s a process there. It takes time for nature to run its course.”

Flooding at Little Red River Park. — Daily Herald Staff

Water levels have dropped by 1.036 meters since Sunday morning, but Hicks said that’s not enough to assess the extent of the damage.

The hardest hit portions were Mair Park in the city’s West Flat, Little Red River Park, and parts of the Rotary Trail between Diefenbaker Bridge and the Prince Albert Historical Museum. The City has closed the boat launch and Little Red River Park to the public as a precaution.

Hicks said it’s still safe for people to come and watch the river during a fast-flowing peak period. However, he advised residents to do so from a secure distance.

I know it’s exciting to look at it because the river is so high and you don’t get to see this very often,” Hicks said.

“It’s certainly safe for someone to have a look at the river, but it’s not safe to get next to it. You need to keep a safe distance away from the edge of the water or the edge of the slopes, because they have been inundated and they will be saturated with moisture.”

Hicks added that the city’s water and waste water treatment facilities are safe and working properly, despite the high levels. City employees had to manage some backflow issues over the weekend, and did shut down the plant for 24 hours to avoid taking in debris. Hicks said the city has more than enough reserves in city reservoirs to make up the difference.