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City continuing work on flood mitigation projects

(PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Flood season is underway in Calgary, and to prevent damage similar to what we saw in 2013, the city is working on more mitigation projects for the Bow and Elbow Rivers.

“Those include barriers that we’re exploring in Bowness and Sunnyside and Inglewood, through Pearce Estate Park, as well as through the east end of downtown,” said Sandra Davis with the City of Calgary’s watershed planning team.

The city has undertaken many measures since the natural disaster almost six years ago, including expansive work on the west end of downtown and in Eau Claire.

However, some of these projects are still in the design stage and will not be finished this year, with lots of public consultations also planned because some of the construction will happen on private land.

There is planned work on a flood barrier along the Bow River between Jaipur bridge and Reconciliation bridge for this year, and also construction should be complete by the end of 2019 on new gates in the Glenmore Reservoir to create more capacity for an overflowing Elbow River.

Davis added these plans are very complex and the work cannot be all done at the same time, plus these projects within the city need to be done in tandem with upstream mitigation, such as the under-review Springbank dam.

“There’s no silver bullet for solving these kinds of complex problems, but it really has to be a combination of different measures,” said Davis. “Another big flood like we saw in 2013 isn’t something that we can mitigate only by what we can do in the city.”

Davis believes this underscores the importance of a project like Springbank, but at the moment the provincial government has only acquired a fraction of the land needed.

Plus, there continues to be a battle between proponents of that project, and opponents who are backing an alternative solution — the McLean Creek dam.

The months of May, June and July are the most likely months to see a flood and it is hard to say if there will be a high-water event due to the unpredictable nature of the weather in southern Alberta.

In that end, Davis said the city also conducts emergency planning around how to get people out of harm’s way if the unfortunate situation occurs once more.