High water level at Ghost Dam not cause for concern, TransAlta says

The operator of the Ghost Dam west of Calgary is trying to calm fears over unusually high water levels.

Water has been held back to allow for flood mitigation and restoration work downstream on Bow River

The Bow River pours through the dam on Ghost Lake near Cochrane on June 22, 2013. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The operator of the Ghost Dam west of Calgary is trying to calm fears over unusually high water levels.

In recent days TransAlta's reservoir near Cochrane has been sitting at unusually high levels.

TransAlta spokeswoman Stacey Hatcher says Ghost Reservoir has been at a higher than normal level in recent days to accommodate work being done downstream on the Bow River. (CBC)

According to company spokeswoman Stacey Hatcher, the situation was just temporary and for a good reason.

"Ghost is coming down and the only reason Ghost was high, was for flood mitigation and restoration work and that had to be done," she said.

The City of Calgary had asked TransAlta to hold back some water while river embankment restoration work was completed. And TransAlta has been restoring some of its river gauges and other instrumentation, Hatcher said.

Decision questioned

But Greg Clark, leader of the Alberta Party, questioned the wisdom of having the dam on the Bow River so full at this time of year.

"It's a big worry. We're into flood season. If we got a big rainstorm or we got a big runoff, I have a big concern that the Ghost Lake dam is not in a position to prevent future flooding."

Hatcher responded to Clark and other politicians who have been sounding off on the issue.

"Raising people's anxiety levels, unnecessarily so, is wholly irresponsible," she said.

"Last year was … a perfect confluence of a lot of events, from a specific weather storm that stayed stuck in the mountains, to a saturation in the ground, to a higher than usual snowpack, to a quick melt, and there you had it  it was literally the perfect storm last year."

Below is the recorded water levels at the Ghost dam. For a closer look, visit the Alberta government's website.

(Government of Alberta)