Farm Flooding Preparedness

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 As seasons and weather change, the best way for rural Albertans to prepare for potential floods is to be aware of the hazards and take action before there is a problem.

Here are some tips to help prepare:

Locate potential hazards in relation to water sources:
“The number one thing to minimize damage is to locate the potential hazards on your property and their relation to water sources,” says Kenda Lubeck, Farm Safety Coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “This includes run off on the property. Potential hazards may be manure, fuels and lubricants, pesticides, herbicides, batteries and sources of electricity. Farm sites should be constructed so that the risk of these contaminants being washed into a water source is minimized. Used chemical containers should be removed from dugout banks and disposed of properly, surfaces around water wells should be mounded up to prevent water from running down the casing, and manure piles should be clear of runoff areas to prevent contamination.”

Secure potable water if there is a flood warning:
If a flood warning is issued for your area, it is important to secure potable water as ground water drinking sources could be contaminated. Flood waters may seep into well casings, contaminating well water, and dugout water could be contaminated as well. Enough potable water should be kept in reserve for humans and animals until all affected wells can be shock chlorinated or the treatment systems for dugout water have been followed. The water sources should then be inspected to ensure they are operating properly.

Identify high elevation areas for relocation:
As part of being prepared, “farmers should identify high elevation areas on their property where they could relocate or store animals, valuable property or any potential hazards that are portable,” says Lubeck. “This location may also need to house people in severe circumstances. Identifying a hill top that is large enough for all important items is vital.”

Inspect dams and canals annually:
Any dams or canals on the property should be inspected annually. The inspection should include a check on the structural integrity of the item and identify any required maintenance issues. If the soil at the base of a dam is saturated, this may indicate that the dam could collapse in the event that any additional water or other such pressure is added. In some cases it may be valuable to engineer a spill way in the dam or canal to alleviate pressure and minimize the risk of losing the entire system.

Have an Emergency Plan:
“It is vital that farmers and landowners have a plan in place prior to the threat of floods,” says Lubeck. “A Rural Emergency Plan is a great tool to help farmers make a plan. This kit, available from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, helps farmers map out their farmstead, including the locations of all hazardous substances, emergency equipment supplies, water runoff information, emergency phone numbers, checklists and any other key information emergency personnel might need. This will help ensure fast and effective decisions in the case of an emergency.”

In preparing for any kind of emergency or natural disaster, it is important to have a communication plan or strategy with your family or partners. Take into consideration that in flood conditions there may be no access to telephone land lines or power for extended periods of time. Discuss these situations ahead of time so everyone is aware of the plan.

Helpful links:
For flood alerts and updates in real-time go to:
To create a Farm Safety Plan, go to:
To create a Rural Emergency Plan, go to:
For information on Emergency Preparedness for Farm Animals, go to:

For more information about the content of this document, contact Kenda Lubeck.
This document is maintained by Kelly Kempton.
This information published to the web on April 11, 2013.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 19, 2015.