Government of Alberta announces Elbow River, Calgary, and High River flood mitigation projects as well as Disaster Recovery Program changes

Government of Alberta budget overview

On 27 October the Government of Alberta released their budget. We've summarized the key water-related elements in a  budget overview.

 

High River flood mitigation projects and Disaster Recovery Program changes announced on 2 November

Further to the announcements on 26 October outlined below, on 2 November the province announced $30 million in multi-year funding for the Town of High River flood mitigation projects. Funded projects include:

  • Design and construction of the southwest berm
  • Design and construction of the 5th Street berm
  • Lineham Bridge rehabilitation, and
  • A working group to assess upstream and downstream impacts of the planned flood defences (this group will be supported by an additional $2 million for flood modeling).

The decision was made not to build a diversion for High River due to concerns about environmental sustainability and cost effectiveness.

Representation on the working group will come from the province, Town of High River, Municipal District of Foothills, and the Highwood Management Plan Public Advisory Committee.

Changes were also announced for the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP):

  • The government will cease collection on overpayments for files of $5,000 or less (affecting nearly 550 outstanding case files).
  • In about 75 cases where overpayments are more than $5,000, files will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

·         The government will be closing nearly 450 files that are classified as inactive (applicants will be contacted before the close out). 

26 October announcements

On 26 October the Government of Alberta announced a range of flood mitigation projects, and ongoing funding of $150 million over ten years, to help protect communities along the Elbow River and Calgary from a repeat of the costly 2013 flood. Here's the list of work announced and briefly what it means.

1. Springbank Off-stream Reservoir chosen over other options including McLean Dam

McLean Creek Flood Storage (McLean Dam) is off the table, and the Glenmore Diversion (also known as the Calgary flood tunnel or “the aqueduct”) is on the shelf. 

Working in tandem with the Glenmore Reservoir, the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir aims to provide protection for a 2013-level flood on the Elbow River. During floods a canal would carry water from the river to the off-stream reservoir (capacity 70.2 million cubic metres). After floods the excess water would be returned to the Elbow River.

Read the independent review of the Bragg Creek / Springbank Off-stream flood storage and the McLean Creek Flood Storage.

Watch a conceptual animation of the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir. 

2. Localized Mitigation for Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows

Dikes and drains in Bragg Creek with protection to 2013 level with freeboard (an extra level of protection above the base flood elevation).

Redwood Meadows’ work will be determined after Bragg Creek, as Redwood Meadows is downstream of Bragg Creek.

3. Bow River Working Group

A stakeholder representative group tasked with providing assessment on future flood protection along the Bow River. It is expected this group would continue existing collaborative Bow River group work undertaken to date.

4. Five River Hazard Studies

This work involves the production of new flood inundation and flood hazard maps for the Bow, Elbow, Sheep, Highwood, and Peace Rivers.

What’s next?

The announcements signify a breakthrough for flood mitigation action in, and upstream, of Calgary. However it's no secret there’s a lot of work to be done. The announcements have also triggered many questions surrounding the operation of the Springbank Off-stream reservoir including:

  • Would the Glenmore Reservoir or Springbank Off-stream reservoir be filled first?
  • What cues will prompt the flood and compensate model to be deployed?
  • How quickly will the reservoir be drained, keeping in mind groundwater flows?

Numerous questions have also popped up around what’s happening for people impacted by flooding in areas along different rivers, or in different watershed basins, and if the River Hazard Studies will involve traditional flood mapping or other techniques.

Share your questions

Comment on this blog to let us know your questions, thoughts, or concerns about flood mitigation across Alberta – we’ll do our best to respond to them!