Gravel removal in Fitzsimmons Creek is expected to begin in the next week following approval from the Ministry of Environment.
The municipality plans to remove up to 72,800 cubic metres of gravel from the creek to reduce flooding hazards, part of the Fitzsimmons Creek Management Plan.
Heavy rains the third week of July raised the water level in the creek and, combined with high water levels in Green Lake, led to flooding at the Nicklaus North Golf Club and the closure of the golf course on July 22.
Water from Fitzsimmons Creek did not top the dykes at Nicklaus North but was believed to be flowing under the base of the dykes, through saturated soil.
The gravel removal work will take place at various times and locations along the creek between the skateboard park and Nicklaus North Monday through Saturday during the month of August.
The municipality will contract the work, but estimates the removal program requires four excavators and 30 trucks. The municipality has switched to and will also ask the contractors to use a biodegradable, low-toxicity hydraulic oil called Environ, developed for heavy equipment by PetroCan. The 99.9 per cent mineral based oil is the same used to make gummy bear candy, and by the pharmaceutical industry for cosmetics and baby oil.
James Hallisey, the municipality’s manage of environmental projects, said the volume of gravel to be removed is greater than usual because the municipality was unable to extract much gravel over the past few years due to fishery concerns. Emergency work was permitted, including 12,500 cubic metres of gravel extracted in February 2005. CN Rail was also allowed to extract gravel at their Nicklaus North bridge on the July 21-22 weekend.
Generally, work is only allowed in streams in August to protect critical fish species. By August, rainbow trout have spawned and the fry have left the river. Bull trout enter their spawn cycle in the fall.
Approximately 10,000 truck loads of gravel will be extracted from Fitzsimmons Creek and deposited at the athletes’ village site and the new transfer station site, to be used as structural fill.
The work will take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Residents in White Gold and Spruce Grove will be most affected. Homeowners in these areas are being advised by letters.