Nearly five years after devastating floods caused more than $5 billion in damage across southern Alberta, much work still needs to be done to protect the city from future flooding, a meeting of council heard Wednesday.

While progress has been made to alleviate flood risk from the Elbow River, uncertainty surrounds a key project identified by experts as critical to preventing another major flood in Calgary, namely an upstream reservoir on the Bow River.

“Calgary needs clarification from the province that they’re committed to upstream mitigation on the Bow and we haven’t heard that confirmation, so it’s a big concern,” said Coun. Druh Farrell, whose riverside ward included many neighbourhoods hit hard by the 2103 flooding.

“(The Bow) is the bigger flood threat, it’s more complicated and it needs all effort from the city and the province, (and) they’ve gone dark.”

The City of Calgary’s water resources department said Wednesday that “significant” mitigation measures have been undertaken or are planned for the Elbow River.

A project to raise the gates on the Glenmore Dam is in the second phase of construction and is expected to roughly double the storage capacity of the southwest reservoir when completed in 2020.

Most importantly, city experts believe construction of the Springbank reservoir — a project that Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason said last week the province was committed to pushing forward — would successfully prevent another 2013-level flood of the Elbow.

But measures to address the greatest risk for flood damage to Calgary, the Bow River, are largely incomplete.

The answer, Calgary’s head of watershed analysis says, must be an upstream reservoir.

“(It’s) absolutely core to both flood protection and flood resilience issues, as well as drought and water supply issues,” Frank Frigo told councillors Wednesday.

“The proposition of a dam would likely lie outside of a decade in terms of its actual operational completion date. However, it does appear to be one of the most important resilience measures that can be undertaken and certainly something that makes sense from a cost-benefit perspective.”

Frigo said the city is continuing to participate in a working group with the province and other water stakeholders to generate possible solutions to the problem of flooding on the Bow.

And the province has inked a five-year deal with TransAlta to adjust operations at the Ghost Reservoir to better absorb water during future flood events.

But with the timelines for the operation of any sort of reservoir project on the Bow …read more



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Nearly five years after Calgary’s flood, a key project is still uncertain

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