The impact of groundwater flooding in Exshaw could get even worse, particularly if the hamlet receives heavy rainfall.
Reeve Dene Cooper, of the Municipal District of Bighorn, says 20 homes have flooded basements, 20 have minor seepage, and that the number of homes impacted could climb to as many as 60 before groundwater levels drop.
"There is a tremendous amount of groundwater," says Cooper, himself a 43-year resident of the community. "I would say a fraction of one per cent of the water in the ground is infiltrating into the houses, maybe one-thousandth of a per cent. The rest is outside the house and will try to get in when its turn becomes available."
He says ground-level water in this area usually peaks in May/June and reaches this level two or three times a decade.
There are about 200 homes in the community and while they have considered declaring a state of emergency have not done so at this point.
A number of homeowners impacted are pointing the finger at the recently completed Exshaw Creek flood mitigation project, west of the flooding. They believe it is diverting the water beneath their homes.
Cooper says a report from the engineers say that's highly unlikely.
"They were designed to work this way, and they are working this way and they are doubtful that it's contributing to any substantial way with any of the groundwater problems occurring elsewhere in the community."
The municipal district, however, is going to be working with a hydrogeologist to investigate groundwater flows affecting east Exshaw. This process is expected to take several weeks to complete.
Cooper says it's yet another stress to add when people already have a lot of their plate with the pandemic and unemployment, and maybe even financial and health challenges.
"How do you manage a family when you have a basement full of water?" he says. "The humidity alone is causing issues."
"I have a great deal of sorrow for the plights of the people that are being impacted this way. They didn't cause it in any way. Nobody imposed it on them, either. But this is nature having a season and we're in the process now and we're going to have to work our way through it."
He says emergency services and public works crews have been working 24/7 putting pumps, hoses, tiger dams, and sandbags in place to protect town infrastructure and divert water from private property to streets and alleys.
Between heavy spring snow and 50mms of rain in two days, it has been a wet spring, says the retired teacher of 33 years, most of it instructing senior biology. Both played a major role in eliminating any air spaces in the soil
"This groundwater has been filling spaces underground to the point there are no air spaces left, and the earthworms are drowning."
"So it's supersaturated, and it takes a long time to get that into the Bow River."
Alberta Environment and Parks has issued the following written statement:
"We have connected with the municipality and it was noted that these are low lying areas where high groundwater levels are common at this time of year.
"As you may know, there is currently a high streamflow advisory in place for this section of the Bow River and these higher flows would likely have an impact on groundwater levels in the area."
The high streamflow advisory is of concern to Reeve Cooper because it will hinder a reduction in the water table.
"Groundwater infiltration is going to be a factor for one, two maybe even three weeks."