Overview

The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir (SR1) will work in tandem with the Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary. Together, the combined storage capacity would accommodate water volumes equal to the 2013 flood.

What’s new

On May 3, 2019, the Government of Alberta announced the appointment of Martin Ignasiak to review the regulatory delays of the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir project and report back to the Minister of Transportation on his findings.

Alberta Transportation and its consultant are finalizing a response to the federal (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) and provincial (Alberta Environment and Parks/Natural Resources Conservation Board) regulators on the Supplemental Information Requests that were issued last year.

In his capacity as a regulatory lawyer with the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Mr. Ignasiak has negotiated numerous impact benefit agreements. Mr. Ignasiak also has extensive experience in electricity market regulation.

Mr. Ignasiak has appeared before all levels of court, including the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of Canada.

He has also appeared before, among others:

  • National Energy Board
  • Alberta Energy Regulator (Energy Resources Conservation Board)
  • Alberta Utilities Commission
  • Joint Review Panels established under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
  • Alberta Environmental Appeals Board
  • Mackenzie Valley Review Board
  • Land and Water Board
  • Nunavut Water Board

How it works

During a flood, a diversion channel carries 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 safely releases the water back to the Elbow River in a controlled manner.

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

Location

The reservoir will be approximately 15 km west of Calgary near Springbank Road, north of the Elbow River and predominantly east of Highway 22. See the May 2018 Public Information Session Boards (PDF, 11 MB) for more details.

What it looks like

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

The diversion channel then carries flood waters to the storage reservoir. The channel is about 4.5 km long and has 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 fast water speed 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.

Project status

Alberta Transportation is working to provide supplementary information to regulators. During this time, the Government of Alberta is also continuing engagement efforts with First Nations, landowners, Rocky View County, the City of Calgary and other stakeholders.

Previous decisions

Environmental Impact Assessment

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

Stantec Consulting has been retained for the design, engineering and the Environmental Impact Assessment (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 the Springbank Project 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 (PDF, 85 KB).

Federal Environmental Impact Assessment

On June 23, 2016, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) announced that a federal environmental assessment is required for the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir.

The decision comes after CEAA concluded its 45-day review of the project to determine if a federal environmental assessment is required. In accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012), Alberta Transportation submitted the Springbank Reservoir project description to CEAA on May 6, 2016. The CEAA review, which included a 20-day public comment period, is a standard practice for projects that could meet or exceed certain triggers within the legislation. You can find more information at:

CEAA - Public Notice Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project

Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project: EIA Work at McLean Creek - Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 191 KB)

Engagement with stakeholders, including landowners, municipalities, Aboriginal communities, infrastructure companies and others has been ongoing throughout the project and will continue as it progresses.

Background

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, Alberta 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.

The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir 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 Springbank Off-stream Reservoir'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

Reports

Review of Bragg Creek/Springbank Off-stream Reservoir and McLean Creek Storage

Recommendations on the Elbow River Major Infrastructure Decisions

News

Contact

To connect with the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-644-5612  
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email:  springbank-project@gov.ab.ca

Address:

Alberta Transportation
Major Capital Projects
Twin Atria Building
2nd Floor, 4999 98 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T6B 2X3