Conservationists say flood mitigation will cause more problems

Conservation groups want the provincial government to take a closer look at its flood mitigation plans.

Concerns raised over the province's plans to divert rivers

Carolyn Campbell of the Alberta Wilderness Association says the province needs to take another look at it flood mitigation plans. (CBC)

Conservation groups want the provincial government to take a closer look at its flood mitigation plans.

They are concerned that plans for a dry dam and a water storage site on the Elbow River could actually cause more problems than it solves.

"Unfortunately these high ticket engineering solutions really more lull us into more building in flood plains that will be affected by the next big floods because the rivers will not just stay into narrow, hardened channels," said Carolyn Campbell, a conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA).

This week the province announced its priorities for projects on the Elbow River including  a dry dam at McLean Creek, an off-stream storage site near Springbank Road and possibly a diversion tunnel in Calgary.

Campbell says the AWA would rather the province look at more ways to work with the river's natural path.

"The problem with the province's recent budget announcements is that it's 97 per cent that appears to be narrowing and constricting and diverting in engineering projects which actually make us less flood and drought resilient," said Campbell.

Concerns from Trout Unlimited

Trout Unlimited is concerned about how much rip-rap, a man-made material, is being used to stabilize riverbanks, rather than using trees and other natural methods.

Brian Meagher says boulders actually speed up rivers when they flood, potentially causing more damage as rushing water cuts deeper into riverbeds.

"By doing that, you lose that connection between the trees and the riparian zone which is so critically important for all kinds of ecosystems."

It's estimated large mitigation projects will take several years to complete if they're approved.