The Bow River is the main headstream of the South Saskatchewan River, winding through the most populated regions in Alberta. Managing water levels in this river is important to helping the province respond to floods, droughts and other extreme weather events.

With a feasibility study nearly complete, Alberta’s government is seeking new public feedback on options to increase water storage on the Bow River and help protect communities from future drought and floods.

Aerial view of Alberta Ghost Dam

Aerial view downstream of the existing Ghost Dam (Photo credit: WSP)

“Droughts and flood protection is top of mind for many of us this year, especially in Calgary and southern Alberta. We have been taking a hard look at various options to protect downstream communities and the families who call them home. Now we need Albertans’ feedback to help us decide if one of these options should proceed.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

For the next three weeks, Albertans are invited to share feedback to help officials understand what is most important them. An online questionnaire focuses on two possible options:

  • Expanding the existing Ghost Reservoir
  • Building a new reservoir between Cochrane and the Bearspaw Dam near Calgary

The feedback this spring will be closely considered along with the rest of the feasibility study, once it is completed in December 2024. The findings will help Alberta’s government decide if there is an option that should proceed to the next phase, the engineering and regulatory approval process.

The survey will be open until May 6. After that, government will carefully review the input Albertans have provided to inform the feasibility study and determine how to proceed to engineering and regulatory approval.

Quick facts

  • A May 2017 report by the Bow River Working Group included a recommendation to complete conceptual assessments of three major reservoir options on the Bow River, upstream of Calgary.
  • In 2021, Alberta began engagement and field studies for Phase 2 of the Bow River Reservoir Options initiative, the feasibility study.
  • The feasibility study continues to assess technical feasibility, while carefully considering a variety of social, environmental, cultural, traditional land use, engineering and economic elements.
  • The feasibility study is looking at three reservoir options in the Bow River basin, upstream of Calgary:
    • Relocated Ghost Dam: An expansion of the existing Ghost Reservoir 
    • Glenbow East: A new reservoir between Cochrane and the Bearspaw Dam at the western edge of Calgary 
    • Morley: A new reservoir between Seebe and Morley, on Stoney Nakoda Nations reserve land
  • This round of engagement focuses on the Relocated Ghost Dam and Glenbow East options only. The Morley option is not ready for public engagement at this time.
  • The feasibility study is also exploring whether any alternatives exist that could reasonably provide the same levels of flood and drought protection as a reservoir.
  • All options are being explored. There is no preferred option at this time.

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