Go to the Locations page to see a map and rendered images of what the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir would look like once approved.
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.
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How it works
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
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.
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.
Environmental impact assessment (EIA)
Alberta Transportation is responsible for the project development, applying for regulatory approvals and, once received, construction. Once construction is complete, Environment and Parks 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
- vegetation and wetland
- historical resources
- traditional knowledge and traditional land use
Learn more about the EIA by reading the Terms of Reference (PDF, 85 KB).
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, Environment and Parks 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
- Review of Bragg Creek/Springbank Off-stream Reservoir and McLean Creek Storage
- Recommendations on the Elbow River Major Infrastructure Decisions
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.
- Protecting southern Alberta from floods (May 12, 2020)
- Milestone reached with Tsuut’ina First Nation on SR1 project (April 14, 2020)
- Responding to Springbank Reservoir regulators (June 14, 2019)
- Taking action to build the Springbank Reservoir (May 3, 2019)
- Protecting Calgary from future floods (January 29, 2019)
- Springbank Off-stream Reservoir update (May, 18, 2018)
- MacLean Creek trails temporarily disrupted (December 9, 2016)
- Springbank Reservoir to get federal environmental review (June 23, 2016)
- Learn about the Springbank Reservoir at May open houses (May 3, 2016)
- Government moves forward with Springbank Reservoir to protect Calgary from flooding (March 23, 2016)
- Alberta moves to project Calgary, neighbouring communities from severe flooding (October 26, 2015)
- Flood project open houses scheduled for Calgary and Bragg Creek (March 6, 2015)
- Flood project open houses set for Calgary and Cochrane (January 22, 2015)
Connect with the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project:
Twin Atria Building
2nd Floor, 4999 98 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta T6B 2X3
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