Welcome to Foothills County

Flood Mitigation Program for Lower Highwood

November 15, 2021

Foothills County continues to advocate for landowners on the Lower Highwood River downstream from the Town of High River who have been negatively impacted by the flood mitigation work that was constructed to protect the Town.

On November 10, 2021 County staff provided Foothills County Council with an update on the status of the project the highlights of which are as follows:

  • In 2019 the Province approved $2,000,000 which was contemplated as a first installment on the estimated $12.85 million that would be needed to complete Phase 1 of the proposed Lower Highwood Flood Mitigation Program. Two of the 11 eligible Phase 1 properties were purchased with those funds. 
  • Remediation of the two properties purchased with the first installment of funding in 2019 should be completed by the end of the year.
  • County staff have been working with the Town of High River, exploring the potential for using funds remaining from grants previously received by the Town to fund the purchase or mitigation of eligible Phase 1 properties in the County. Unfortunately, due to an appeal process regarding the Town's South West Dike, it is unknown what funds will be available and when.
  • County staff sent out letters to update landowners in both Phase 1 and Phase 2 on November 10, 2021:
  • An application for funding from the Province for the 2021-2022 fiscal year is currently being prepared.

Foothills County Council members have continued to remind local MLAs and the Minister of Environment about the impacts created downstream from High River encouraging them to rectify the situation by funding the Lower Highwood Program so that landowners who have been negatively impacted can see a fair and equitable resolution.

For information on this program you may contact any of the following:

Donna Fowler by email (click here) or by telephone at 403-603-6209.
Rob Miller by email (click here) or by telephone at 403-603-6217.
Julie McLean by email (click here) or by telephone at 403-603-6239.

 

March 29, 2021

We submitted applications to the Province for further installments of funding for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 fiscal years to enable the Lower Highwood Flood Risk Mitigation Program - Phase 1, and have been told that there are no funds available at this time.

A detailed chronology of the work undertaken to date can be found here. Some of the letters referenced in the Chronology can be viewed below:

 

March 22, 2019

Lower Highwood Flood Risk Mitigation Program - Phase 1

Foothills County is pleased to announce the receipt of $2,000,000 in funding from the Government of Alberta for the 2018-2019 fiscal year to enable the initiation of Phase 1 of the Lower Highwood Flood Risk Mitigation Program. This funding is considered to be the first instalment in a multi-year program; however, future instalments will be subject to approval by Alberta Environment annually.

Phase 1 of the Lower Highwood program proposed by the County will enable offers for buy-outs or mitigation to residential property owners on the Highwood River downstream from the Town of High River whose residences are predicted to be negatively impacted by the mitigation constructed to protect the Town.

With direction from Alberta Environment, properties eligible for the program have been prioritized based on their predicted level of impact from the Town of High River’s mitigation in a 2013 equivalent event. Properties who are predicted to have the largest increase in water levels at their residence compared to what they would have seen in 2013 will be the first to be addressed. Landowners who are eligible for Phase 1 of the program are being contacted by letter. Future phases of the program are still under consideration by the Province.

Some details of the program are yet to be finalized, but it is known that offers for buy-outs will be at market value and may be accepted by property owners on a voluntary basis, no forced buy-outs are contemplated under this program.

For more information please contact Donna Fowler at Foothills County by email (click here) or by telephone at 403-603-6209.

October 3, 2017

As part of the flood mitigation study that was enabled by the November 2015 Government of Alberta funding announcement, Foothills County commissioned IBI Group, to undertake a Flood Mitigation and Compensation Study.

Foothills County is seeking a fair solution to address the expected impacts of the flood mitigation works that have been constructed to protect the Town of High River. These mitigation works have resulted in a change in the flow split between the Highwood and Little Bow rivers and a reduction in flood storage capacity in the vicinity of the Town. The end result is that in future extreme flood events, landowners along the Highwood downstream from the Town are expected to see higher flood levels and faster water. It is also expected that they may flood more often.

The IBI report proposes a program of buyouts or compensation for landowners who are expected to have adverse impacts to their properties. The program that is suggested by the study is not to be interpreted as compensation for pre-existing flood risk or previous flooding, rather it is proposed as compensation for these landowners not being afforded the same protection given to others and for the use of their lands as part of an overall flood mitigation strategy for the Town.

This study was presented to Foothills County Council in September and Council gave direction to staff to release it to the public.

Some of the recommendations put forth in this study have been used by Foothills County staff to develop a proposal for a Lower Highwood Flood Mitigation Program for consideration by the Government of Alberta. A confidential draft version of the proposal for Phase One of a two part program is currently undergoing a preliminary review by Alberta Environment. 

July 10, 2017

A letter was sent to Foothills County landowners with property along the Highwood and Little Bow Rivers downstream from the Women's Coulee Inlet.

The letter provided an update on the status of the proposal for a mitigation program and include a letter from the Government of Alberta that was sent in response to the proposal submitted in Nov 2016.

Based on the advice from the Watershed and Adaptation and Resilience Branch of Alberta Environment, Foothills County is working on a stand-alone proposal for a flood hazard mitigation program for lands on the Highwood River downstream from the Town of High River. We anticipate submitting this proposal in early fall.

January 25, 2017

A letter was sent to Foothills County landowners with property along the Highwood and Little Bow Rivers downstream from the Women's Coulee Inlet. The letter outlined the progress to date on the proposal to the Government of Alberta for a flood hazard mitigation program and directed people to this website to review both the proposal that was submitted to the Province on November 1st, 2016 as well as the supplemental information that was submitted the end of December, 2016. 

November 1, 2016

Foothills County submitted a proposal to the Government of Alberta for a Highwood / Little Bow Flood Risk Mitigation Program. The proposal suggests a program of offering protection or buy-outs for properties along the Highwood and Little Bow Rivers within Foothills County that are predicted to receive flood waters at their residence in a future 2013 equivalent event (with the mitigation constructed at High River in place).