Water Collaborative Meeting Notes

January 29, 2014 by CRC Action Group in Meetings & Updates, News

Water Collaborative Meeting Minutes Thursday, January 23



Groups represented were:

Government of Alberta, Flood Recovery Task Force
Community Flood Mitigation Advisory Panel
Calgary River Communities Action Group
Millarville Residents’ Group
Eastern Irrigation District
Western Irrigation District
City of Calgary
City of Medicine Hat
Town of High River
Town of Okotoks
MD of Foothills


Andre Corbould: Update from the Flood Recovery Task Force (FRTF)
Andre began the meeting by sharing the latest information on the FRTF’s ongoing projects, as well as a couple new items.

  • Engineering consultants AMEC and AECOM continue their work to review and assess flood mitigation options for the Highwood, Elbow, Bow, Sheep, Oldman, and South Saskatchewan river basins
  • Consultants (Stantec and IBI/Golder) have recently been selected for the Red Deer and Athabasca basins
  • An RFP will soon be issued for consulting engineers to examine natural, non-structural solutions for flood mitigation
  •  Building on pioneering work by the Town of Canmore, the Government of Alberta is expanding its efforts to study the unique flood hazard risk posed by debris flooding along mountain creek alluvial fans
  • Preliminary environmental analysis has started on initial proposed projects (this is a necessary step before formal environmental impact assessment can begin)
  • Cathy and Andrew from the FRTF mitigation team will be touring Ohio dry dams next week
  • Planning has started on the next flood mitigation symposium, tentatively scheduled for mid-April
    in Calgary.
  • Dutch mitigation experts are coming to promote their expertise
  • City of Calgary is holding a mitigation symposium in May, focused on measures that can be taken
    by individual homeowners
  • We are still considering at a few different options for the Highwood River diversion. There is no
    final alignment at this time.


Michael Kelly and Meghan Van Ham, WaterSMART: Flood modeling presentation
A flood modeling tool was presented that shows the amount of flow at Calgary for a specific flood event (e.g. a repeat of the 2013 river flows) with various flood mitigation strategies in place. The model can also be linked to a visual representation of what level of damage might result from various flow levels.

  • Prior to demonstrating the modelling tool, Michael reviewed how the Bow is managed by existing TransAlta infrastructure
  • Reviewed how the model works and where else it is used (widely used in USA)
  • Reviewed objectives of modelling: assessing options, chance to be bold and innovative, and put forward solid recommendations
  • It was noted that this is not a forecasting tool, it is a model that shows outcomes based on specific inputs
  • Question/Comment: What is the likelihood of another 1:100 flood again this year? It was noted that a wet year doesn’t necessarily mean we get a flood. Although it’s fairly likely to have a repeat of the 2013 rainfall event that led to flooding, much less likely the 2013 flood is repeated.
  • Modeling demonstration was presented by Dan and Casey from HydroLogics
  • Examples used in the demonstration were: Ghost reservoir operations, Elbow River Dry Dam,
    Calgary underground diversion, and Glenmore reservoir operations (CRCAG NOTE: Modeling of the Underground Diversion was incredibly encouraging as  was the modeling of operational changes on the Ghost.)
  • Comment made by City of Calgary that Glenmore Reservoir cannot be dropped as low as in the
    initial run of the model. This would impact the quality of drinking water.
  • Meghan commented that there are two parts to the flood mitigation equation: the amount of flow
    we can reduce and the flow target rate we would like to meet.
  • We are not likely to have new mitigation measures (structural) in place for 2014, improvements
    for this flood season would come from operating changes at TransAlta dams
  • Andre mentions we are now at the stage where we are looking at combinations of options and
    how they work together
  • We are compressing cycles (modelling, engineering, environmental review) so work happens
    concurrently to shorten the overall timeline


Roger Drury: TransAlta update
Roger Drury from TransAlta took the group through TransAlta’s recent work to study dam operations and the role the company could play in flood mitigation.

Roger mentions the operations of TransAlta infrastructure during the flood managed to cut the flow of the Bow by approximately half

They have done some modeling of operational changes at Ghost, but noted that this modeling is not based on absolute certainty of reservoir inputs

TransAlta needs to consider additional and alternative monitoring to give operators more insight into the volume of water coming in



Updates from municipalities:
Quick updates from each municipality in attendance with their top priorities and focus in the short-term.


City of Calgary update 

  • RFP for the underground diversion feasibility study closes Friday
  • Expert panels are being set up on mitigation themes and there will be a report to council by end of
  • Need to keep people more informed regarding the flood situation. It would be helpful if people knew
    the risk at all times (low, medium, high), instead of long periods with no information then an
    evacuation order.
  • For this flood season, they are looking at locations for temporary berms


High River update: 

  • People are focused on safety, security, and mitigation
  • Resources from the Government of Alberta are moving swiftly
  • High River is preparing an emergency social services plan



MD Foothills update: 

  • They are mostly focused on erosion control
  • Environmental approvals are being expedited


Okotoks update: 

  • Nearly lost their water treatment plan and are submitting a plan to protect it
  • CP Rail line is causing a problem and they may need to turn to the Province of Feds for assistance dealing with CP



Medicine Hat update:

  • Ambitious mitigation plan with multiple structures and protection for their sanitary lift stations
  • 2016 is likely timeline for substantial completion
  • Will need to confirm provincial plans and downstream impacts before moving ahead
  • Andre notes Medicine Hat was a leader in removing homes from floodways
  • Andre also shares that FRTF will put forward request for FREC 2 to extend the erosion control program


Millarville update: 

  • They have flooded three years in a row and want project approvals fast-tracked
  • Asked if the MD can help Millarville develop an emergency plan (MD says they will set a meeting)


Points regarding emergency planning:
There was a quick discussion regarding emergency planning. The need for cooperation between municipalities (preferably a municipality that would not be affected by the same flood) and the need for the basic elements of a local emergency management plan to be shared with the public.


For emergency services, need to look for other municipalities in a different watershed to provide services in an emergency.


A request was made for municipalities to share an outline of their emergency management plan (it was noted these are not public documents and are not FOIPable).


While information sharing is good, there is a need to keep some details of a local emergency management plan confidential.



Kim Sturgess: Water Smart update:

On February 17 and 18, Water Smart will hold a flood forecasting workshop.