Saturday April 19, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Cabinet committee will handle flooding

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Premier Brad Wall has appointed a special committee of cabinet ministers to oversee the province's preparations and response to potential spring flooding.

Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter will chair the new committee. Reiter is also the Minister responsible for the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP). Other ministers on the flooding preparedness committee will be Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff, who is also Minister responsible for the province's Water Security Agency (WSA), Highways and Infrastructure Minister Don McMorris and Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart.

Reiter said preparations to deal with the spring melt and potential flooding problems are well underway.

In addition to the $182 million designated in the Growth and Financial Security Fund to cover potential flooding costs, several ministries are preparing for the possibility of spring flooding.

Throughout March, the Ministry of Government Relations and the WSA held a number of meetings in at-risk regions, providing more than 200 communities with information and advice on mitigative actions they can take to prevent and respond to flooding.

Individuals are encouraged to make plans and take steps to protect their property from flooding.

"If you require information or assistance to do this, contact your municipality or band office directly," Reiter said. "Local contact information and information about flood preparedness and keeping yourself and your family safe can be found at www.gr.gov.sk.ca/flood."

Over the past two years, the WSA has provided more than $25 million to assist in the construction of 580 permanent works to prevent flood damage.

Water levels of the Rafferty and Alameda reservoirs continue to be lowered in preparation for the spring runoff. Releases are currently 20 cubic metres per second (m3/s) from Rafferty and 14 m3/s from Alameda. The WSA has also initiated releases from Boundary Dam, and those are at six m3/s.

The Ministry of Highways is preparing for potential flooding by ensuring road building materials, culverts and bridge replacement components are on standby, and machinery, culvert steamers and trailers filled with all of the necessary equipment are ready to go. There are 15 emergency flood trailers with 150 portable lighting stands, 5,000 signs and markers, 500 sets of barricades, 25 400-gallon water tanks, 30 pumps, 100 night flagging kits, 750 barricade lights and 30 steamers.

"We know that even with the best local response plan, communities can be overwhelmed by a flood," Reiter said. "In these instances, the provincial government is ready to assist communities through response, recovery and financial support to assist Saskatchewan people."

Municipalities that need help will be able to secure flood supplies, equipment and assistance by contacting Government Relations. Emergency supplies and equipment available include sandbags and sandbag machines, pumps, hoses, barrier systems and small generators.

In the event of a major flood, assistance to communities will be prioritized based on levels of risk, emergency response teams will be increased and PDAP staff will be available to assist. WSA staff is also available to provide technical advice to assist communities and individuals facing flood threats.

WSA will provide daily updates to its flow forecasts if flooding situations develop. The forecast will be available at www.wsask.ca/Lakes-and-Rivers/Provincial-Forecast/.

"Everyone has a role to play," Reiter said. "I strongly encourage each individual to take active measures to safeguard their property and families, so we minimize the impacts of flooding as much as possible."


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