Bow River Update and Call to Action

March 9, 2015 by CRC Action Group in Calgary River Communities

Meeting with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) and Call to Action for Bow River Flood Mitigation


On Friday February 27, 2015 representatives from CRCAG (Rob, Gloria and David) met with Andrew Wilson and Matt Machielse of ESRD to specifically address the negotiations between TransAlta and the Province. The following items were discussed:


  • ESRD is aware that the lack of communication on mitigation measures for Bow River communities has not been sitting well with residents living in these communities. They are making every effort to move forward with a short-term agreement for the 2015 flood season that will focus on operational changes at the Ghost Reservoir to increase flood-storage capacity
  • ESRD and TransAlta will continue to work on a longer term goal for a more comprehensive water management agreement that will involve both flood and drought mitigation
  • Due to a fishery issue in the Ghost Reservoir, TransAlta and ESRD are aiming for channeling work to be done in the reservoir in April/May so additional flood storage can become available beyond last year’s pilot level
  • CRCAG conveyed to ESRD that a community engagement event should be planned in April to update Bow River communities on the progress ESRD has made with TransAlta. ESRD agreed to collaborate with CRCAG on hosting such a public meeting, more details will follow
  • CRCAG, ESRD, and TransAlta will meet in the next couple of weeks to discuss further mitigation work involving TransAlta infrastructure


CRCAG is aware of the frustration residents in Bow River communities are feeling as the 2015 flood season approaches. While we appreciate any operational changes that TransAlta is willing to adopt to provide additional storage for flood mitigation, we do believe that additional storage options need to be explored in order to provide a minimum 1:100 level of flood protection for Bow River communities in Calgary. As such, we are asking you to issue a clear message to our Premier and ESRD Minister by sending the following letter (with any additions of your own), to Premier Prentice ( and Minister Fawcett (


Dear Premier Prentice and Minister Fawcett,


I am aware that the Province is in negotiations with TransAlta on striking a long-term agreement in leveraging infrastructure along the Bow River system for flood mitigation. Although I am supportive of any operational changes to TransAlta facilities, leveraging the Ghost Reservoir alone will NOT provide a minimum 1:100 level of flood protection that Bow River communities (including the Downtown Core) require.


Upstream storage options for the Bow River are desperately needed when the City of Calgary cannot accommodate a flow rate above 800cms on the Bow River. The Province cannot take the economic, social and safety risk to Bow River communities and the Downtown Core lightly when historic peak instantaneous discharges have been documented well above 1000cms on the Bow River in Calgary. In 2013, the peak instantaneous discharge for the Bow River was ~1750cms! I urge you to investigate additional storage options along the Bow River system that exceeds the 1:100 level of flood protection. The Province needs to provide a greater level of flood protection when many other provinces across Canada are offering a >1:200 level of flood protection.


There must be a comprehensive flood mitigation plan to protect our City. Therefore, you cannot forget about the Bow River.