We’re ready: City of Calgary’s flood preparations in place heading into high river flow season
We are heading into that time of year when Calgary starts seeing higher river flows and levels, which is from May 15 to July 15. The City of Calgary is ready with flood preparations complete and are reminding Calgarians the importance of being flood ready too.
While the COVID-19 pandemic changed how The City approached its annual flood preparations and response plans, it didn’t change what matters: everything is in place to quickly respond to a flood. As part of the standard practice, the water levels in the Glenmore Reservoir and Ghost Reservoir have been lowered to create more room for potential flood waters, and operations crews have tested infrastructure, completed regular training exercises and stockpiled materials. The City has also started 24/7 river monitoring which includes closely watching the snowpack in the mountains as it starts to melt and keeping an eye on any large rain systems that can cause river flooding.
“We’ve completed a lot of work to reduce Calgary’s flood risk by half, and significant projects are progressing upstream that, if they move forward, will reduce this risk even further. However, at this time of year flooding can still happen because we’re so close to the mountains, so we need to be ready,” says Sandy Davis, Team Lead of River Engineering. “We understand that many Calgarians are tired and stressed from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic but taking time to be personally prepared is the best way to help ease the added stress if flooding were to happen.”
The City encourages residents to take a few steps to protect their home and family:
- Understand. Know your flood risk by checking our flood maps.
- Prepare. Take simple actions to reduce the risk of flooding in your home and prepare your family to evacuate quickly if there is a need.
- Stay informed. Visit calgary.ca/floodinfo for resources including links to the Alberta Environment and Park’s river basin website or their downloadable app to find out current river flows, forecasts and advisories.
Eight years after the 2013 flood, Calgary is better prepared because of key investments in over a dozen flood mitigation projects across the city. Those investments include higher steel gates at the Glenmore Dam that double the capacity of the Glenmore Reservoir to help protect communities along the Elbow River, along with flood barriers in vulnerable areas including West Eau Claire and at the end of Heritage Drive that provide protection to critical roads so they can stay open in an emergency.
This year will see the start of construction for the Downtown flood barrier, stormwater system improvements and finalization of the design for the Sunnyside barrier.
Davis adds that all of these in-city projects will be complemented by the important upstream reservoir work the Government of Alberta is leading on the Bow and Elbow rivers that will deliver the majority of flood protection needed for Calgary. Work on these initiatives is at various stages and earlier this spring, the Springbank Reservoir, which is needed for the Elbow River, completed the last step toward regulatory approvals. Decisions from the provincial and federal regulatory review process for the reservoir should be made this summer.
The City has information available to help Calgarians prepare. Citizens can learn more at calgary.ca/floodinfo.