The actions of one employee helped save tens of thousands of fish as the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery was inundated in last month’s flood in southeast Calgary.

At the peak of the flood water was seeping into the basement where millions of dollars’ worth of water pumping and electrical systems is kept, said fisheries technician Ryan Lyster.

Ground water wells had shut down and power was out at the hatchery, which is part of the province’s Bow Habitat Station at 1440-17A Street S.E.

"It was intense watching the river, you know, it was angry," he said, describing how the raging Bow River was steadily encroaching on the building.

"We lost our ability to bring fresh water into the building and that's … what we use to raise fish and keep fish alive," he said.  


The actions of fisheries expert Ryan Lyster helped ensure flood damage at Calgary's Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery was minimized. (CBC)

When the technicians who came to make repairs got stranded in the flooded parking lot, Lyster rescued them, ensuring that some power was restored before it was too late.

The 100 fish in the small children’s catch-and-release pond survived the flood, as did the 200,000 thousand trout being raised to stock Alberta lakes. Those fish were relocated.

"We didn't lose a single fish."

Still, the hatchery will not return to normal operations anytime soon.

The facility plans to reopen some of its discovery centre exhibits on July 30, including a presentation on the impact the flood will have on Alberta's trout population.

Because of the disruption, there could be a dramatic drop in the 1.3 million fish stocks normally raised for Alberta's lakes and reservoirs every year.  

"Worst case scenario it'll be a 45 per cent reduction next year," Lyster said.