June 2013 is a month that most southern Albertans won't forget. In Waterton Lakes National Park, rain began in the morning of June 19 and continued all day, intensifying through the afternoon.
By evening, as heavy rain continued and widespread flooding was feared, Park staff evacuated Belly River, Crandell Mountain and Townsite campgrounds. Campers were moved to lodging in the community or to campgrounds outside of the park. All parkways and trails were closed as a precautionary measure.
Flooding in the Community
By morning 200 mm of rain had fallen over 24 hours. As skies cleared, park staff began the slow process of gaining access to flooded areas for damage assessment. Later that morning, Townsite Campground, Chief Mountain Highway and Belly River Campground were deemed safe from flood danger and campers were allowed to return.
The Red Rock Parkway remained closed as Coppermine Creek continued to pour over the road and piles of debris made travel impossible.
Red Rock Parkway Flooding
The Akamina Parkway remained closed due to several large washouts (one in excess of 70m in length), immense piles of debris, unstable slopes, buckled pavement, broken guardrails and plugged culverts. Lineham Creek and Ruby Creek had altered their courses and now flowed over the roadway.
Akamina Parkway Flooding
The community's sewage treatment plant and much of Parks Canada's upper compound were flooded by a normally small creek draining off Crandell Mountain. The continued operation of the sewage treatment plant was threatened by high water levels.
Re-opening Park facilities was the first priority. As soon as safety assessments were complete, crews moved swiftly to clear culverts, remove debris and re-establish proper drainage. By evening the Red Rock Parkway had re-opened and emergency repairs to the sewage treatment plant were complete.
Red Rock Parkway Repairs
The First Week
It became clear that damage to the Akamina Parkway and the sewage treatment lagoons were extensive and would require additional expertise and resources. Contracts were put out to tender, and by June 30 construction crews were at work in both areas.
The bridge to Crandell Mountain Campground was declared safe by engineers and the campground re-opened June 25. However, the engineers determined that riverbanks around the bridge abutments required additional stabilization. A contract was put out to tender, and work began shortly after.
Parks Canada put a free shuttle service in place to ease traffic pressure on the Red Rock Parkway. Cameron Lake boat rentals were relocated to Linnet Lake for the summer. A heavily-eroded bank on the Entrance Parkway was repaired by Parks staff on June 23.
The Akamina Parkway remained closed to all traffic. This included the road from the townsite to Little Prairie Picnic Area, and included Crandell Mountain Trail, Crandell Lake Trail South, Lineham Trail and Lower Rowe Lakes Trail.
Riverbank stabilization around Crandell bridge was completed by July 24. Sewage lagoon repairs were completed by July 28.
Sewage Lagoon Repairs
Work on the Akamina Parkway began July 1. Mountains of debris were cleared, sorted and stockpiled for later use as fill. Plugged culverts and damaged guardrails were removed and salvaged if possible. Drainages and ditches were cleared. Innovative engineering solutions were designed for the damaged sites, to meet one-in-one-hundred-year flood specifications.
Akamina Parkway: July Repairs
Construction at the largest Akamina Parkway washout began. Rock scaling began at two sites, long recognized as rockfall risks, and provided all the material needed for slope stabilization at the eight damaged sites. No rip rap needed to be imported, a great cost saving.
Akamina Parkway: August Repairs
Work continued on the Akamina Parkway. Upstream catchment basins were built in two locations. Rock scaling continued.
Akamina Parkway: September Repairs
The last major repairs began on the Akamina Parkway, including debris screens, retaining walls and a bridge, replacing several culverts over Lineham Creek.
Akamina Parkway: October Repairs
Repairs were completed during the month of November in all areas except for a retaining wall in Area 5 (km 3.4). This section will be repaired during a short closure in the spring of 2014.
Akamina Parkway: November Repairs
The Akamina Parkway re-opened on November 30, 2013 in time for winter recreationists to access Cameron Lake as usual. We appreciate the patience everyone showed during the closure.
Please note that a retaining wall will not be repaired until the spring of 2014, which means that this stretch of road (3,4 km) will have one lane with alternating traffic throughout winter. Caution is therefore required.