Issues with Cochrane Lake have been ongoing over the past three years but there were a number of significant developments this summer.

In the period between January 2011 and July 2012 water levels in the lake rose 1.55 meters above the maximum safety level and threatened nearby homes. In 2012 Rocky View County spent $220,000 pumping water out of Cochrane Lake and into a nearby tributary of Horse Creek. The County hoped the Province would foot the bill for the pumping and assume responsibility for lowering Lake levels in the future[1]. However Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AERSD) said that as a part of the license to operate, the developer and the company that supplies drinking water for the region was responsible for Lake water levels[2]. Unfortunately, both the developer and the water utility holder went bankrupt. 

Bow River west of Cochrane 
"Bow River West of Cochrane" by Brad Smith is licenced under CC BY 2.0.

In 2014 Rocky View County suggested implementing a Local Improvement Tax to permanently regulate high water levels on the lake[3]. When information on the LIT was sent to residents, many were “outraged” for a number of reasons.

  1. Cochrane Lake residents were hesitant to accept a tax for a problem that “they didn’t create”. 
  2. Additionally, the proposed tax has no cap 
  3. The LIT included plans to build a path along the lake as well as a berm around the body of water. Residents didn’t want to pay for paths along public land and were concerned about the ecological impact of building a large berm[4].

Any attempt to implement a long-term solution to flooding by the AESRD has been complicated by bankruptcy and regulatory proceedings involving the now defunct developer and water utility. 

There is also concern over where to pump the excess water long-term. In August 2014 the Province began to pump water into the Bow River, instead of Horse Creek, to bring water levels down to safe levels before winter. Councillors question if Horse Creek could handle a significant volume of water but note that running a permanent line to the Bow River would be costly and run across multiple landowner’s properties. From an environmental perspective, watershed advocates were concerned that silt from lake water could negatively impact brook trout spawning in Horse Creek and Big Hill Creek[5]. 

On September 11th the LIT was struck down by Rocky View councillors. Current pumping is endeavoring to bring down water levels before winter. Recently, Alberta Environment announced they would provide $2.3 million in grant funding to install water level management infrastructure.   

 

Read more from our "Summer Stories Worth Revisiting" series

Part 1: Invasive Mussels

Part 2: Ghost Lake Reservoir

Part 3: Proposed Maligne Lake Development

Part 4: Cochrane Lake 

 

Date  Article
September 18, 2014 Seewalt, Lindsay. Cochrane Lake water levels continue to decline. Cochrane Eagle. 
September 15, 2014 Gowan, Jessi. Cochrane Lake tax rejected by council, receives grant funding. Rocky View Weekly. 
August 28, 2014 Seewalt, Lindsay. Cochrane Lake pumping into Bow River to begin; some concerned. Cochrane Eagle. 
August 4, 2014   Rocky View Weekly Staff. Cochrane Lake Reisdents against proposed Local Improvement Tax. Rocky View Weekly. 
July 3, 2014 Seewalt, Lindsay. Cochrane Lake residents outraged by lack of support from county. Cochrane Eagle. 
July 9, 2014  Komarnicki, Jamie. Rising water levels in Cochrane Lake threaten residents’ homes. Calgary Herald
June 20, 2014 Spruit, Kristen. Local Improvement Tax to be sent to residents of Cochrane Lake. Cochrane Eagle
May 19, 2014 Wilson, Sara. Council delays decision on Cochrane Lakes localised tax. Rocky View Weekly. 
May 14, 2014 Feil, David. Cochrane Lake proposal delayed. Cochrane Times. 
September 30, 2013 Spruit, Kristen. Long-term solution proposed for Cochrane LakeRocky View Weekly. 
August 13, 2012 Massey, Kimberley. Province orders developer to pump Cochrane Lake. Rocky View Weekly.  
July 23, 2012  Massey, Kimberley. County hopes to bill Province for Cochrane Lake pumping. Rocky View Weekly. 

 

 

[1] Massey, Kimberley. (2012,  July 23). County hopes to bill Province for Cochrane Lake pumping. Rocky View Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.rockyviewweekly.com/article/20120723/RVW0801/307239991/county-hopes-to-bill-province-for-cochrane-lake-pumping

[2] Massey, Kimberley. (2012, August 13). Province orders developer to pump Cochrane Lake. Rocky View Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.rockyviewweekly.com/article/20120813/RVW0801/308139989/province-orders-developer-to-pump-cochrane-lake

[3] Spruit, Kristen. (2013, September 30). Long-term solution proposed for Cochrane Lake. Rocky View Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.rockyviewweekly.com/article/20130930/RVW0801/309309997/long-term-solution-proposed-for-cochrane-lake

[4] Seewalt, Lindsay. (2014, July 3). Cochrane Lake residents outraged by lack of support from county. Rocky View Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.cochraneeagle.com/article/20140731/COE0801/307319984/-1/coe/cochrane-lake-residents-outraged-by-lack-of-support-from-county 

[5] Seewalt, Lindsay. (2014, August 28). Cochrane Lake pumping into Bow River to begin; some concerned. Rocky View Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.cochraneeagle.com/article/20140828/COE0801/308289997/-1/coe/cochrane-lake-pumping-into-bow-river-to-begin-some-concerned