Flood Mitigation: How Finning Helps Argosy Operate Safely Within River’s Reach

12 July 2023

Climate Change has transformed the way many regions across Canada prepare for natural weather events. In British Columbia, the threat of flood and wildfire has become an area of focus for the Province as authorities look to increase awareness and fortify at-risk areas.

In the spring of 2018, the City of Grand Forks experienced a devastating flood that thrust the region into a state of emergency. The combination of a heavy snowpack and consecutive days of torrential rain overwhelmed river systems across the South Okanagan. Of the regions hit the hardest was Grand Forks’ North Ruckle neighbourhood, which sits on the bank of the Kettle River, along with industry located downstream.

As a response to this event and the growing risk of future weather events, the City of Grand Forks kicked into preventative action by allocating $16.5-million to a flood mitigation program that involved the city buying approximately 90 at-risk properties in order to fortify river embankments. The program is an example of managed retreat, which refers to the coordinated movement of people, and sometimes infrastructure, away from natural hazards often brought about by extreme weather events.

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The scope of work involved the construction of concrete and earth barriers along 830 metres of the river bank and two new stormwater pump stations. Chandos Construction was hired as the construction manager who conducted the initial outreach with various environmental and archeological groups.

A significant portion of the project involved excavation from tight areas alongside the Kettle River. This required not only operator precision but also a high degree of equipment technology to track progress, increase efficiency, and ensure safety.

Chandos Construction hired trade partner Argosy Construction—a local civil construction company with more than 35 years of experience. Equipped with a fleet of Cat® excavators, Argosy is a long-time equipment partner of Finning and is outfitted with some of the latest onboard technologies. In particular, GPS capabilities courtesy of SITECH and Trimble proved to be a significant advantage during in-river work. Argosy was able to upload a 3D model of the project directly to their Cat 323 and Cat 330 Excavators in order to accurately dig in and place rip rap into the toe of the dyke, reaching up to 3 metres in river depth.

“The technology gives us a full-plan view. We can have 3D profiles and cross-sections. Once you see the production along with the fuel savings on these machines, it makes for an easy decision to go with Finning and Caterpillar.”
Calvin Lamontagne, Owner — Argosy Construction

In addition to performance and precision, another advantage of Argosy’s onboard technology relates to proper fish isolation and turbidity control. “A partner like Finning is great to work with, especially when we’re working in the water,” states Calvin Lamontagne, Owner of Argosy Construction. “We had a short window to do underwater excavation because of the fish habitat, so it was paramount that the machines kept running.

Finning was brought on early in the project to support the equipment planning phase. And, because of this early consultation, Finning optimized Argosy’s fleet specifically for the needs of flood mitigation so that the work could be completed within a tight timeline while meeting all environmental guidelines.

“Because of the permits we got to work in and near the river, we needed to be very accurate and very detailed in our construction,” comments Colby Darbyshire, Superintendent at Chandos Construction. “We used surveying as double-checks and quality control but, with the equipment Argosy has, it’s unreal how close they got.”

Finning is the world's largest Caterpillar dealer, selling, renting and providing parts and service for equipment and engines to customers across diverse industries, including mining, construction, petroleum, forestry and a wide range of power systems applications. We operate in Western Canada, South America, and UK and Ireland.