Oldman River water levels below average in Lethbridge

Water levels in Lethbridge are below average, even after a rainy May long weekend.

Despite more precipitation being forecasted for this week, residents don’t need to worry about flooding, said Doug Kaupp, Lethbridge’s manager of water and wastewater and chair of the Oldman Watershed Council, on Tuesday.

“The risk of flooding in the river this spring is really quite low because of the current conditions,” he said.

“It would take an exceptional rain event to get the river above normal.”

Flooding is created by snowmelt from mountains along with rain. Last year, several southern Alberta municipalities announced local states of emergency due to overland flooding, including in Lethbridge County.

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“Flooding conditions are often large intensive storms that would deliver the amount of water that we’ve gotten in the last few days within hours,” Kaupp explained.

While it has been raining recently, the total rainfall amount hasn’t added up to much. Oldman River hasn’t risen much this spring — in fact, it’s the opposite, with water levels below average for this time of year.

“It’s less than average because the amount of snow that we’ve gotten in the mountains is less than average and the reservoirs upstream are not full as [of] yet,” Kaupp said.

The low water levels may not pose a risk for flooding but it is still concerning, he added, noting that it can impact water supply for irrigation districts and municipalities.

The city will continue monitoring the river levels, with more frequent checks starting in early June when there is a higher risk of flooding.

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