Parks Canada; Barr Engineering

Erosion Risk Forecasting in BC’s Kootenay National Park

Analyzing and mitigating risk to highways due to future riverbank erosion

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About

Sections of highways in the Rocky Mountains are at risk of being undermined or washed-out by eroding banks of encroaching meanders. Parks Canada contracted Palmer, through a subconsultant agreement with Barr Engineering, to forecast and help mitigate erosion risks along Highway 93S in Kootenay National Park.

Based on high-resolution topographic data and a comparative analysis of channel positions in historical and recent air photos, Palmer determined the rates and trajectories of riverbank erosion toward Highway 93S. Further analysis of past river behaviour enabled forecasting of future channel positions and estimates of where and when the highway would be impacted without intervention. Recommendations for proactive erosion control measures were provided to mitigate engineering risks while also satisfying fisheries-related regulatory requirements.

Leadership
  • Rick Palmer President, Fisheries Biologist
  • Robin McKillop Principal, Geomorphologist
Client
Parks Canada; Barr Engineering
Services
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Fluvial Geomorphology
Date
February 2018 — April 2019

What We're Doing

After submitting a package presenting results of erosion risk forecasting and conceptual mitigation plans in April 2018, Parks Canada was able to optimize its budget and staff resource allocation to implement a plan that would mitigate the risks. Furthermore, Parks Canada and its engineering consultants were able to finalize mitigation strategies informed by an understanding of site-specific erosion rates and trajectories. Palmer was subsequently retained by Parks Canada, through a subconsultant agreement with WSP, to complete an inventory of sites at risk from riverbank erosion within all Rocky Mountain National Parks.

Aquatic Ecology

Industry-leading fisheries science consulting and aquatic services assisting in minimizing project effects on fish and complying with environmental legislation. Assessment of fish population dynamics, food web interactions, fish health and aquatic habitats amid human-induced impacts supporting monitoring, permitting and habitat compensation planning.

Fluvial Geomorphology

Watershed-, reach- or site-scale analysis of river behaviour for baseline characterization of sediment transport patterns, erosion risk assessment and mitigation (e.g. bioengineering) for infrastructure and property protection, and 'natural channel design' for creek realignments and habitat restoration. Past trends are used to manage risk to infrastructure and land development, as well as aquatic and riparian ecology