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Alberta takes big steps to protect against future flooding

The Redford government is taking action to protect Alberta families and taxpayers from future floods by committing to major mitigation projects on the Highwood and Elbow Rivers.

During a speech to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Premier Alison Redford announced that consultation and environmental reviews are set to begin on a diversion channel around High River and a dry dam upstream of Calgary.

“I know families across Alberta want our government to do absolutely everything we can to make sure the damage caused by the flooding in June never happens again. The projects we are moving forward with will help us lower the risk of future flooding and keep southern Alberta residents safe.”

- Premier Alison Redford

In addition, the province is providing a grant to the City of Calgary to study the feasibility of an underground diversion from the Glenmore Reservoir to the Bow River. This project would be considered as part of Calgary’s flood mitigation plan. 

"Mitigation of future flood events and building resiliency are not only vital, they are a shared responsibility.  We are pleased to hear of progress on upstream mitigation and are looking forward to further study of the Elbow River diversion project, which could yield huge benefits for Calgary."

- Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary

A number of community mitigation projects are already completed or underway in communities across southern Alberta, including High River and Medicine Hat.

"These mitigation projects give our families, businesses and investors the confidence to move forward knowing we will be protected from the impact of future flood events. We look forward to partnering with the province as these plans take shape.”

- Craig Snodgrass, Mayor of High River

Work to consult with public and stakeholder groups as well as undertake environmental impact assessments will begin right away.

“It is critical that we move forward as quickly as possible on these mitigation projects, and we recognize the importance of conducting environmental reviews to protect our communities and environmental resources.”

- Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

The projects are part of a province-wide mitigation strategy that adds layers of resiliency against future floods. Current and future mitigation projects are developed through consultations with Albertans, municipalities, irrigation districts, the province’s Flood Advisory Panel and experts such as Alberta WaterSMART.

“WaterSMART is dedicated to continuing to work with the province to improve its existing watershed models. Together, we’ll identify and evaluate various options for water management in Southern Alberta.”

- Kim Sturgess, CEO, Alberta WaterSmart

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

Related information

Flood mitigation


Flood mitigation quick facts

Highwood River project quick facts:

  • The proposed diversion channel around High River would reduce flood risk by diverting excess water away from the town. Route options, design and capacity will come after thorough consultation  and assessment.
  • The peak flow rate of the Highwood River at High River during the June floods was between 1500-1800 cubic meters per second. Normal flow rates for the Highwood River at High River during the month of June are between 30-70 cubic meters per second. The diversion is projected to accommodate a peak flow of approximately 500 cubic meters per second.

Elbow River tunnel project quick facts:

  • The province will fund a grant for the City of Calgary to conduct an engineering study on the feasibility of an underground diversion for the Elbow River.
  • The proposed diversion would tunnel from the Glenmore Reservoir, along 58 Avenue to the Bow River, east of downtown.
  • The diversion would be designed to accommodate a peak flow of 500 cubic meters per second.

Elbow River dam project quick facts:

  • The dry dam upstream of Bragg Creek would manage flows on the Elbow as they flow into Calgary’s Glenmore reservoir.
  • The proposed dam would have a capacity of 44 million cubic metres

Community mitigation quick facts:

  • High River mitigation projects in progress, completed or starting soon:
  • Removal of the CP rail bridge and scraping of the Highwood River to remove debris, allowing the river to flow more freely.
  • Repair, raise and reinforce northwest dike sections and northwest bank protection.
  • Raising 498 Avenue to provide protection against flooding from the north.

Medicine Hat mitigation projects starting soon:

  • Six approved erosion control projects funded by Flood Recovery Erosion Control grants will begin soon in Lions Park, Harlow, Riverside, Industrial Avenue, Water/Power Plant and River Road.
  • Installation of storm water gates/valves on various outfalls along the South Saskatchewan River, Ross Creek and Seven Persons Creek basins to prevent backflow during flooding.

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