The last few years have had some of the highest discharges on record in parts of the Wapiti Watershed. Flows like this can cause serious erosion issues and point out management practices that could be improved.
Interestingly enough, the very things (components and processes) that make these systems resilient to flood also function in to increase drought resilience. This project is about supporting resilient watersheds, so that the watersheds can support us.
An avulsion is an event where a river blows through its banks and forms a new channel. This event happened through the field of an unfortunate producer during the 2018 flood. To mitigate the impacts on the field of the new channel and the flooding we are accelerating the creation of a floodplain. Floodplain are great at slowing slowing down high velocities flows, storing water and trapping sediment.
The mouth of the avulsion (new channel formed by river eating through its bank) is being widened to speed up the establishment of a floodplain. Heavy equipment was used as was labour to install livestakes that will establish willows throughout the floodplain. Willows slow water and reduce its erosive power and holds the soil together.
Work to stabilize banks, retain water in the hyporheic zone, reduce sediment loading in the water and protect agricultural lands has begun.
We would like to thank the Government of Alberta for providing funding for this project through the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program.