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. 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. Unfortunately, both the developer and the water utility holder went bankrupt.
|"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. When information on the LIT was sent to residents, many were “outraged” for a number of reasons.
- Cochrane Lake residents were hesitant to accept a tax for a problem that “they didn’t create”.
- Additionally, the proposed tax has no cap
- 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.
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.
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 4: Cochrane Lake
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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