Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation said on Wednesday that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) required for the Springbank off-stream reservoir – part of the province’s overall flood mitigation strategy – is now underway.
The EIA – which examines a variety of issues, including but not limited to air quality, noise, vegetation and wetlands, historical resources, traditional knowledge and traditional land use – is required for various environmental regulatory processes, including federal components. The Alberta government committed in October 2015 to build the reservoir as part of an overall provincial flood mitigation strategy, the Ministry of Transportation said in a press release.
Designed as a dry dam unless flood conditions are present, the Springbank off-stream reservoir will work in tandem with the Glenmore reservoir in Calgary. “The Springbank off-stream reservoir, combined with local mitigation measures in Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows, will provide protection against 2013-level flood volumes for communities situated along the Elbow River,” noted a backgrounder from the transportation ministry. A system of dykes and drains will provide local flood mitigation for the community of Bragg Creek; engineering work on this project is already underway, led by Rocky View County.
The floods temporarily forced tens of thousands from their homes, resulting in $6 billion in damage. A recent flood damage assessment for the City of Calgary suggests that there is up to $942 million at risk on the Elbow River in the event of a 1-in-200 year flood.
According to the background information, the Springbank reservoir is closer to operational response teams and access roads, and less vulnerable to damage during extreme weather events. It is also less sensitive to impacts from sediment and debris.
The provincial government has conducted extensive stakeholder consultation for this project and will continue to engage with stakeholders and provide public updates as milestones are achieved, the ministry said.