Living by the reservoir

Information on location, area needed, engagement and project illustrations.

Go to the Locations page to see a map and rendered images of what the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir will look like once built.


Open communication will continue from project planning through construction and operation. During construction, a community liaison will provide updates and be a point of contact for stakeholders and Indigenous groups. Concerns raised will be shared with the construction contractor for investigation and appropriate steps taken.

For safety reasons, public access to the site is prohibited while it is under construction. Prohibited activities during construction include (but are not limited to):

  • hunting
  • walking
  • hiking
  • cross-country skiing
  • snow-shoeing
  • winter camping
  • use of all-terrain vehicles (for example, snow mobiles, quads)

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How it works

Animation of how the reservoir will work during a flood.

During a flood, a diversion channel will carry water from the Elbow River to the off-stream reservoir, which would have a storage capacity of 70.2 million cubic metres or about 28,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. When peak waters have passed, an outlet structure will safely release the water back to the Elbow River in a controlled manner.

The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir (SR1) will work together with the Glenmore Reservoir, which has 10 million cubic metres of available flood storage, to achieve the level of protection required.


SR1 will be located approximately 15 km west of Calgary, a location that allows for:

  • the capture of water from a large area of the basin, offering flood risk reduction to the City of Calgary and Rocky View County properties that are downstream, along the Elbow River
  • a low-profile diversion structure that has lower impact on fish passage than conventional in-stream dams
  • close proximity to operational response teams and access roads
  • the project to be constructed and operated with less impact on the environment than more remote locations

What it will look like

Image of the Springbank diversion structure

A diversion structure, with several components that work together, will control how much flood water enters the diversion channel.

The diversion channel will then carry flood waters to the storage reservoir. The channel will be about 4.5 km long and will have a bottom width of 24 metres.

The channel cut would be similar to an irrigation canal with side slopes of about 3:1 (horizontal:vertical). It will generally be vegetated with native species. Erosion protection may be provided at select locations where faster water is anticipated.

Illustration of a diversion channel.

Area needed

The total area within the project perimeter is approximately 3,870 acres, including road allowances, structures and the maximum extent of any backwater during emergency scenarios.

This perimeter also includes surplus borders around the various components of the infrastructure that may or may not be required as the precise location of the components is defined through additional engineering assessment and design.

The reservoir's full supply level is achieved when it is storing the 2013 flood event (water elevation 1,210.5 metres, based on current conceptual design). Based on the current dam location, this flooded area would be approximately 1,950 acres.

Previous decisions

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors is responsible for the project development, applying for regulatory approvals and, once received, construction. Once construction is complete, Environment and Protected Areas is responsible for the reservoir’s management and operations.

Stantec Consulting has been retained for the design, engineering and the EIA. An EIA is required for various environmental regulatory processes and is now underway.

Information gathered during the EIA process is used to evaluate the potential positive and negative effects of a proposed project.

The EIA for SR1 is examining a variety of issues, including but not limited to:

  • air quality
  • noise
  • vegetation and wetland
  • historical resources
  • traditional knowledge and traditional land use

Learn more about the EIA by reading the Terms of Reference.


In October 2015, government announced it would move forward with the Springbank Project, combined with upstream local flood mitigation, to reduce the impact of flooding on the Elbow River.

Choosing the Springbank Project

In June 2015, the Alberta government commissioned the Dutch research foundation Deltares to review the original infrastructure proposal reports and a subsequent benefit/cost study for flood mitigation work on the Elbow River and provide a recommendation on which project to take forward to construction-ready status.

SR1 and upstream local mitigation were chosen over the McLean Creek Dam because:

  • the Springbank option is less costly
  • will have less environmental impact
  • has shorter timelines
  • will capture more runoff due to the SR1’s location further downstream

The Springbank option is also:

  • closer to operational response teams and access roads
  • less vulnerable to damage during extreme weather events
  • less sensitive to impacts from sediment and debris
  • more environmentally friendly than the McLean Creek Dam, which would require the removal of trees and vegetation from the reservoir area and would irreparably alter the habitat for wildlife and fish population
  • faster to construct and less likely to be negatively impacted by weather-related delays or risk of catastrophic failure



Stakeholders and Indigenous groups have submitted their concerns to the project team, including questions related to:

  • benefits and costs
  • land use
  • Indigenous consultation
  • water and hydrogeology
  • environmental impacts

We continue to engage with Indigenous groups and stakeholders, and look forward to further discussions about the Springbank Reservoir.



Connect with the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project:
Email: [email protected]