Emergency measures needed to lower Cochrane Lake say residents

Officials are working on an emergency plan to drain Cochrane Lake as rising water levels threaten surrounding homes.

Rising waters of artificial lake threaten surrounding homes

Rising waters at Cochrane Lake northwest of Calgary are threatening surrounding properties. (CBC)

Water levels at an artificial lake west of Calgary are rising and are threatening to flood surrounding properties. 

Cochrane Lake has been rising over the past several years and water levels have now reached a critical point, threatening to flood homes in a lakeside development.

Jill Breeck and John Boutet's lawn is underwater, the trees on their property dead. A pump runs around the clock and they have stacked sandbags in an effort to keep the water out. 

Boutet said he has lost sleep and his wife said their dream home has turned into a nightmare.

"It was our retirement place where we were going to come and have peace and quiet," said Breeck, "[It's] just completely spoiled."

Phil Lemke, who lives in Monterra, a luxury development at Cochrane Lake, has been watching the water rise for three years, swallowing up paths and chain-link fences.

"Each year it's getting progressively worse," he told CBC News.

Emergency pump being used

Water from rain and the spring run-off hasn't saturated into the ground in recent years partly because of the development around the lake.  

Jamie Hanlon, a spokesman with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources, told CBC News the "amount of water that is coming into Cochrane Lake is greater than the amount that we're able to pump out into the creek."

An emergency pump is currently diverting lake water into a nearby creek but isn't enough, according to Rocky View County Reeve Margaret Bahcheli.

"We are approaching Alberta Environment asking for increases in our pumping rate and also more outlets so we can take it to different courses and get some relief on the lake," she said.

The immediate plan is to get another small pump going. The next step would be to get a larger pipe to the Bow River that would bring the water level down by about two metres.

Rocky View County and Alberta Environment have been working on a solution. It has been caught up in red tape due to complicated issues with the development, which is now stalled. Nevertheless, officials hope to have a plan in place this summer.


  • John Boutet was mistakenly identified as John Breeck in an earlier version of this story.
    Jul 09, 2014 1:15 PM MT