Southern Alberta 2013 Flood Recovery
Since 2012
Key Team Members
Richard Eaton
Norma Glendinning
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) needed to streamline the approval process for flood recovery applications by a dramatic margin to deal with a huge increase in the number of applications due to the flood.

Berlineaton helped staff redesign their processes, and build a stronger team, with the result that turnaround times were reduced from four to six months to seven days for most applications.
The floods of June 2013 in southern Alberta were the worst flooding in Alberta history and the most expensive natural disaster ever in Canada, causing an estimated $6 billion in damages. Four people were killed and over 100,000 people displaced. 

ESRD quickly engaged Berlineaton to help create a ‘one window’ process to be ready to expedite hundreds of flood recovery applications, and to help Albertans return to their normal lives as soon as possible. 

Berlineaton was selected because of our reputation for success when working in similar situations in the natural resource sector and elsewhere, along with our team-focused approach to continuous improvement, and business process redesign.

Martin Foy, the Regional Director of Southern Alberta for ESRD, had worked with us in the past and knew our approach was what his department needed to successfully tackle this time sensitive challenge. 
Project Overview
The original assignment was to help Southern Alberta recover from the devastating floods.  ESRD initially engaged Berlineaton to create a “one-window” process to be ready to expedite hundreds of flood recovery applications, and to help Albertans return their lives to normal as soon as possible. 

Over three weeks in July, we worked with a cross-functional ESRD team in Calgary to:
  • Map the current business process for Water Act and Public Lands Act Authorizations;
  • Identify opportunities for improvement such as integrating, improving flow, accepting more risk, eliminating redundancy, and locating decision points closer to where work was performed;
  • Redesign the process to make it more integrated and streamlined;
  • Develop tools to support the new process;
  • Create a plan to implement the redesigned process;
  • Validate the redesigned processes with a selection of clients and with the teams who would deliver them.

The redesigned process was implemented within weeks of the flood. The new process shortens the timeline for issuing approvals, making application approval five times faster.

Since implementation, the ESRD has more efficiently facilitated hundreds of authorizations. The new process shortens the timeline for issuing approvals, making application approval five times faster while maintaining legal and environmental benchmarks. 

In recognition for its hard work, the department was awarded the Bronze Medal for Innovation at the National IPAC Conference held in June 2014 in Edmonton.
Other Flood Recovery Work

Subsequent to completing this first, most urgent task, we helped the department with a number of other important tasks. 

We helped them document the processes followed during the immediate flood recovery work. We also interviewed more than a dozen ESRD staff to help them map out and categorize the processes they used to respond to the flood.

The results from this work have been synthesized into a comprehensive body of procedures that can be used by other regulators to help respond more effectively to future emergencies. It also represents a thorough description of the actions taken by staff, with supporting rationale, to assist with any future performance audits.

The processes we helped map are as follows:
  • Operations Infrastructure
  • Fish and Wildlife Recovery
  • Dam Safety Inspections
  • Drinking Water 
  • Sediment 
  • Back Country Trails
  • Waste Management
  • Staff and Consultant Requests during Flood
  • Contract Management
  • Overtime Tracking
  • Accounts Payable

Also in July 2013, we helped ESRD develop communication plans and processes to ensure the public was kept informed of the department’s progress.

Starting in August 2013, we began to help the department create five new programs worth hundreds of millions of dollars to help flood recovery and mitigation efforts including:
  • Flood Recovery Erosion Control Program to help southern Alberta’s communities become more resilient ($216M);
  • Habitat Enhancement and Sustainability Program to restore fish habitat ($10M);
  • Back Country Trails Program to help restore Alberta’s trails ($10M);
  • Alberta Community Resilience Program to help all Alberta’s communities become more resilient  ($325M);
  • Watershed Restoration and Resiliency Program to help restore and enhance Alberta’s watershed ($21M).

We continue to help the department develop and implement these programs.
Southern Alberta is in the process of rebuilding infrastructure to recover from the flood and to mitigate the impact of future flooding. As a result of a lot of hard work from dedicated public servants, most Albertans have been able to resume their normal lives. Mitigation projects worth millions of dollars are currently underway and will help Albertans be better prepared for future floods.     
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