The Bog

The Bog is where thoughts, opinions, discussion pieces, and action converge. Influential thinkers from the water community are invited to share their insights on current or controversial water topics. Please note that the views expressed herein are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Alberta WaterPortal.

As the flood waters rose in 2013 I was tagged in a post from my friend Drew, who works at Google, asking for help finding someone at the City of Calgary who could provide permission to update the Google Crisis Map. Luckily, I was able to help make the needed contact as I continued to update the WaterPortal with the continuously changing information on the flood. One year later, I've asked Drew to recount his experience working in the Google Crisis Centre during the Southern Alberta flood of 2013.

Calgary Crisis Map - Alberta Flood 2013

My name is Drew Cormier. I was born at Rockyview General Hospital and raised in the Deer River community of Calgary. My summers were filled with street hockey and biking through Fish Creek Park and the winters revolved around building the best snow forts with my friends. Despite moving out of Calgary in 2001, I have always considered it my hometown. More recently, I moved to California to begin working at Google in October of 2012.

In June of 2013, only 7 months after I had begun my new job and life, I started to see disturbing trickles of information pertaining to Calgary through social media. Twitter began to have more and more alerts pertaining to alerts and advisories. Facebook began to fill up with images and videos from friends of flooded streets and evacuations. News websites showed rising water levels at Calgary landmarks like the Saddledome and cars being stranded.

The final push I needed to begin helping was when I saw that the neighborhood I grew up in had been evacuated. The house I was raised in, my friends and their families that I grew up with, had all been evacuated because of the rising Bow River. At that point I knew I had to do something to help.

A flood warning has been issued for areas in the Oldman Basin and the South Saskatchewan River Sub Basin. This blog entry will be updated as the event unfolds, however we can not guarantee that we will always have the most timely information. For the most up to date details individuals should look to the Alberta Emergency Alerts website, the River Forecast Centre, and their local municipality.


As of June 30th the state of Alberta Emergency Alerts regard this rain and flood event are no longer in effect. Some impacted areas require donations to help with recovery. Check the previous updates for contact information of municipalities to see if they have a call out for additional help.

The City of Calgary Expert Management Panel has released The River Flood Mitigation Panel Final Report for approval by City Council. In the report, it's revealed that the proposed tunnel taking water from the Glenmore Reservoir on the Elbow River to the Bow River will cost $457 million for construction and engineering, double that of the original estimate of $200-290 million. More details are provided in the Report to Priorities and Finance Committee, including that the project has been deemed feasible by the engineering firm Hatch Mott MacDonald.  

New In The Report

Aside from a new price tag, the report also comes with a new path for the tunnel. The original proposed path was from the bottom of the Glenmore Reservoir, under 58th Avenue, and into the Bow River. The new path is from within the Glenmore Reservoir, under Heritage Drive, into the Bow River. 


Reactions So Far...

The report happened to be released (or at least seen by media) mere hours before the Calgary River Communities Action Group Annual General Meeting. For those unfamiliar with the group, they formed shortly after the flood last year and have been advocating for the protection of their communities from future flooding. This meant some raw reactions from that group as they heard not only the news, but the first public comments from Mayor Nenshi and Premier Hancock who were attending the AGM.

There have also been a trickling in of reactions from those who did not attend the CRCAG AGM.

What's Next?

The report comes with the following recommendation:

Recommendation: In partnership with the Province, compare the three major capital works options for mitigating floods on the Elbow River and identify the optimal investment plan:

i. A diversion from the Elbow River to the Bow River in accordance with the conclusions of the feasibility studies.

ii. The Springbank off-stream diversion and storage site.

iii. The McLean Creek dry dam.

If the recommendation is followed, it seems there may be a winner take-all from the three options above. The report to committee further elaborates on this: "An integrated evaluation by the Province, in collaboration with The  City, of the costs and benefits (operational, environmental, economic, safety) of all three options is needed".

For you the reader, we hope this means now will be the time that you send in feedback on these costs and benefits so that issues that are near and dear to your heart are not missed. Whether that's the immediate protection of your home, or the trout in river (as per the comments in the tweets above) or something else entirely. As indicated in previous blog posts, we can be your messenger to get feedback to report writers and decision makers. Alternatively you can send feedback directly to the City or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Last Thursday we learned about ecological resilience theory, the Panarachy Framework, and how the study of ecological resilience has since been applied to our social systems. This entry will explore the socio-ecological resilience and its importance.  

Socio-ecological systems are interconnected systems that link people and nature, where humans are seen as a part of, not apart from, nature [1].  

What is Socio-Ecological Resilience? 

Resilience in socio-ecological systems is strongly connected to the capacity for people within the system to respond together in the face of a disturbance [2]. Trust, strong leadership, and well-developed social networks are societal attributes that contribute to social capital [2]. Social capital is how social groups withstand external shocks to their social infrastructure, and adapt collectively to intentionally manage resilience[3][4]. Social capital or a community’s adaptive capacity can also be defined as their social resilience [3],[4]. As we saw in Alberta, our social capacity, our leadership, empathy, compassion, trust, and social networks were one of our greatest assets in the initial recovery of the 2013 floods. 

The Government of Alberta has released some aerial view photos of a selection of the flood mitigation work that has been done over the past year. It seems Google Maps hasn't updated Southern Alberta since the flood last year, so below are before pictures provided by Google Maps and after shots provided by the Government of Alberta.

Canmore - Cougar Creek

Before June 2013:

canmore cougar creek

Cougar Creek in Canmore as viewed from Google Maps