Once approved, the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project (the Springbank Reservoir) will work in tandem with the Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary to accommodate water volumes equal to the 2013 flood on the Elbow River.
The Springbank Reservoir will reduce flood risk by managing downstream river flow rates and volume. This goal will be met while protecting the river, critical habitats, fish and wildlife.
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- Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Update – Summer 2019 (PDF, 1.8 MB)
- Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) have reviewed the Springbank Reservoir’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and asked for additional information requests as a regular part of the regulatory process. Alberta Transportation provided responses to the requests on June 14, 2019. The EIA and IRs and responses to the IRs are available on the resources page.
- The Government of Alberta has acquired roughly 20% of the land required to build the Springbank Reservoir.
- The federal government announced up to $168.5 million in funding for the Springbank Reservoir through Infrastructure Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.
- Alberta Transportation continues to move the Springbank Reservoir forward, engage with stakeholders and Indigenous groups and welcome further dialogue about project impacts and how they will be mitigated.
- This work to advance the project includes responding to the public and Indigenous groups by adding a debris deflector to prevent large in-stream debris, such as trees, from entering the diversion channel during operation.
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 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.
The Springbank Reservoir 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 fast water speed 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.
Alberta Transportation continues 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.
The Government of Alberta is dedicated to moving forward with the Springbank Reservoir. Lawyer, Martin Ignasiak, Osler LLP, was hired to assess the Springbank Reservoir’s status and advise government about immediate action to move it forward, while respecting the regulatory approval process and the ongoing consultation and engagement required with stakeholders and Indigenous groups.
Construction will begin following regulatory approval. The Springbank Reservoir will be functionally operational after the second year of construction (1:100 year flood) and fully operational after the third year of construction.
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
- 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.
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
- 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.
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Personal information is being collected by Alberta Transportation under the authorization of Section 33(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act and is managed in accordance with part 2 of the FOIP Act. Your name and email address may be used for contact purposes to send updates. Your personal information will be shared with the NRCB, AEP and CEAA.
- 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)
To connect with the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project:
Major Capital Projects
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