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2013 Alberta Flood Recovery – Bathymetric Pier Scour Survey

With total damage estimates exceeding $5 billion, Alberta’s 2013 catastrophic flooding is one of the costliest disasters in Canadian history.


WSP conducted bathymetric pier scour survey inspections to identify any scour-related flood damage and related risks to southern Alberta’s bridges, in order to ensure safety for travelling Albertans. A total of 34 sites were identified for inspection within an accelerated three-week program. WSP’s approach involved:

  • The use of a portable high-frequency echo sounder (shallow draft ZEBEC craft and eight horsepower engine, equipped with a single beam echo sounder utilizing the 235 kilohertz frequency) for bathymetric data.
  • The use of Leica dual frequency GPS receiver with a robotic total station set-up on the shore, which assisted in accurate positioning beneath the superstructure of the bridges.
  • Streamlined post processing of data, as well as effectively combined position and sounding data, which achieved the direct integration of the echo sounder and Leica survey instruments.
  • For every bridge site, the provisions of three dimensional geodetic coordinates for the river bottom, deck elevations above existing piers (to allow for comparison with previous data sets), and a survey datum report.


  • Bathymetric Survey and Real-Time Positioning
  • Data Collection and Interpretation
  • Pier Scour Inspection

Location: Southern Alberta