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Lampman, Benson fighting to stay high and dry

While much of the focus on flooding in the area has centred on areas along the Souris River, a number of rural municipalities and communities north of Estevan are also battling to stay dry.

While much of the focus on flooding in the area has centred on areas along the Souris River, a number of rural municipalities and communities north of Estevan are also battling to stay dry.

Overland flooding has led to some significant headaches for an area stretching from Griffin to Benson and on to Lampman. Not only are dozens of roads in the various RMs closed, the water is also leading to some sleepless nights for officials in Lampman as they are dealing flooding in the RM but the possible flooding of the town itself.

In an interview with The Mercury Thursday, Greg Wallin, the administrator for the Town of Lampman and the RM of Browning, said the situation there "isn't looking good" and any further rain will only make things worse.

"If we get three to four inches of rain, I don't know what we are going to do," said Wallin. "There is so much water out there now. How much more can it flow that way before it's going to flow back and be right in town.

"We had to put a dike across our storm sewer and pump it across from town because we have a natural dike from the railroad track there. That is how full the reservoir for the storm sewers is out of town. It can't run anymore, we have to pump every ounce of water out of town. Hopefully (the water) will run east, but it is full out there. We are kind of at a level point and it has to get really high before it ever runs east to Moose Creek. It's such an unknown and such a scary situation. I don't know what is going to happen."

Wallin said the constant rain has had other negative effects on Lampman and the surrounding area. In town, he said the roads are "shot" because the ground beneath them is so wet. The water plant is still safe but the impact upon their sewer system has been significant.

"Everybody has their storm sewers plumbed into the sewer so what is happening then is we have to hire trucks to pump out because our pumps can't keep up when it rains," said Wallin who added a number of basements in town have also been flooded.

"In the RM, we don't hardly have a road you can get anywhere on anymore, they are all under water. We are running out of roads to go north and south."
Benson is also dealing with an incredible volume of water. RM administrator Laureen Keating said they too, have a number of flooded roads and noted water began going over Highway 47 Thursday. As of Monday traffic was down to one lane and Sask. Highways had crews in the area helping with the flow of vehicles.

"The (roads) that we can't deal with we had to close and the ones that we can do something about we have been trying to haul gravel on so people still have access," she said.

"The access to go around Highway 47 from the 705 has a lot of water on it too, but it still hasless water than having to go through the 705 because that road is closed. We do have a lot of roads closed and there is more every day. Another one just showed up (Thursday)."

As for Benson itself, Keating said the recent rainfall has only added to their troubles. The Hamlet declared a state of emergency Monday at 3 p.m. and some residents have begun sandbagging as a precautionary measure.

"We have a resident in town here where the water is going over the road right by their house so they are going to be sandbagging (Monday night) and they've been getting stuff out of their house," said Keating. "We're possibly going to (sandbag) a couple of the roads that are close to the (water). We didn't expect the water would come up so high, we thought it would just go through the run. We have hauled in extra gravel and tried to bank it up but that is just slowing it down so hopefully the sandbagging will help."

Benson is also dealing with concerns at its water treatment plant. Keating said the area around their pumping station is surrounded by water but as of Monday afternoon they were operating normally.

Along with keeping watch over their communities, Keating and Wallin were also in Weyburn Thursday morning for a court case involving the RM of Griffin and some of its ratepayers.

According to reports, the ratepayers went to court to force the RM to cut a road in the municipality or install culverts. The RM of Griffin was fighting the move as there were concerns such a move would have drastically sped up the flow of water which in turn could have flooded a number of areas including Lampman.

"We all presented our affidavits and pictures showing what would happen and what was already happening and how it would further be a detriment to our municipalities, especially the town of Lampman and some of our ratepayers," said Keating.

"A lot of the water will come eventually, but at a slower pace it can be mitigated and will spread out more. Downstream, say Lampman, will not get all the water because some of it will have spread out before it gets there."

"(The water) would get here too fast and we can't handle it coming any faster," added Wallin.

After hearing arguments from both sides Thursday, the judge presiding over the case issued a stay Monday and the RM of Griffin will not be forced to cut the road in question.

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