No extreme flood risk in forecast for Calgary, but city says it's prepared for one
Mitigation projects continue to be built, but some are still years away
The City of Calgary says there is no indication of a big flood threat this year, but the torrential rains that are the main culprit for river floods in the region are difficult to predict.
Floods are most likely to occur between May 15 and July 15.
"Our floods happen very quickly and we all have to be prepared to act quickly," said Sandy Davis, the city's flood risk awareness program manager.
While there is the possibility of a wetter than average spring, Davies also said there is an average or less-than-average snowpack in the mountains.
She said the risk has been reduced by about a third since the deluge of 2013 due to flood mitigation work already completed, but more needs to be done to reduce the risk.
Davies specifically pointed to the importance of reservoirs on both the Elbow and Bow rivers in order to deal with the ravages of climate change.
The Springbank reservoir and a potential new dam along the Bow will provide both flood mitigation and help the city make it through a drought.
"I think that the longest term project is definitely the Bow River reservoir," said Davies regarding all the mitigation plans either underway or being explored.
"That's a major infrastructure project and has to go through the same environmental reviews that the Springbank project is going through right now."
Davies said that could take "several years or one or two decades" to complete.
That project is only in early stages, with three sites being explored for the project.
Millions of dollars
Work on increasing the capacity of the Glenmore Reservoir is already well underway and some flood barriers have already been completed within the city.
Davies did not have a number for how much the city has spent on flood mitigation but said the province offered $150 million over 10 years starting in 2015, plus money for the Springbank dam.
The federal government promised $168 million for Springbank as well.
According to the city, its flood readiness program includes several components:
- Developing and maintaining emergency response plans.
- Conducting training sessions and exercises for city staff.
- Identifying areas of the city and critical infrastructure that are most vulnerable to flooding.
- Ensuring adequate emergency resources are in place.
- Sharing information with Calgarians, businesses and other municipalities.
- Operating existing infrastructure, such as dams, reservoirs and outfall gates, to reduce flow rates and mitigate flood damage.