Flood mitigation efforts are the responsibility of two different jurisdictions: the City of Calgary for local mitigation like community berms and storm water management systems and Government of Alberta for study, design and construction of an upstream reservoir on the Bow River. As a result, BRFM and its members must be ready to respond to changes in the City’s and Province’s timelines. The BRFM Board will do its best to keep its members informed of changes to project timelines and how you can take action.
City of Calgary – Bowness Berm Project & Advocacy with the Province
Write to Councillor Sharp
While the Bowness Berm Project is on hold, we need the City to push the Province to find a solution that keeps enough water out of the city to reduce the groundwater flooding.
Below is a sample letter to send to Councillor Sharp. Personalize the letter with your specific concerns and email it to:
or mail to: P.O. Box 2100, Station M Calgary, AB, T2P 2M5
Dear Councillor Sharp,
Now that the City of Calgary has delayed further design and construction of the proposed Bowness Surface Barrier, we appeal to the City to advocate for a more robust upstream solution that protects Bowness from overland and groundwater flooding. This level of protection is being provided to Elbow River communities and this should be a priority for Bowness.
As river levels rise, groundwater flooding is the dominant cause of flood damage in Bowness. A solution that controls groundwater is imperative. The City has completed groundwater studies that show that with construction of the proposed Bowness Surface Barrier, with the design maximum release rate of 1230 m3/s, residents of Bowness will experience extensive groundwater flooding. For most Bowness residents, this damage will be of the same order as the devastating 2013 flood. This study and resident experience support that the current maximum release rate of 800 m3/s defines a damage threshold above which the community incurs significant flood damage. Protecting Bowness and other Bow River communities from flood damages, lost livelihoods and potential loss of life requires adequate upstream mitigation as the province has committed to for the Elbow River.
In the FAQ section of the city project website, your administration has indicated they will not advocate for a larger upstream reservoir and have accepted the 1230 m3/s peak target flow rate. This position is clearly not in the interest of your constituents. The message communicated by the community through the landowner petition, letters, the working group, virtual engagement and 1:1 meetings with the project team prior to this deferral was not for the City to passively wait for the province to conclude it’s study, but to actively advocate for a more robust solution. As our Councillor for Ward 1, we seek your assistance to ensure that the City continues to negotiate with the Government of Alberta in a timely fashion for a solution that keeps the Bow River floodwaters out of the city and protects Calgarians.
Province of Alberta – Bow River Reservoir Options
The Province is assessing options to mitigate the impacts of both flood and drought on the Bow River.
In Spring 2020, the Alberta government completed a conceptual assessment of options and in Fall 2020 the feasibility study phase was initiated.
Visit their website to learn more and sign up for email updates
Engage with the Bow River Reservoir Option Project Team
Register to receive and watch for project updates, opportunities for public engagement and to submit questions to the team online at https://your.alberta.ca/bow-river-reservoir-options-feasibility-study
Write to our Provincial Government Leaders
Now is the time to write your MLA and the Minister of Alberta Environment & Protected Areas. In your letter reinforce the importance of the Bow River Reservoir Option initiative and stress that the peak flow rate through Calgary must be less than 800m3/s to stop groundwater flooding in Bowness. Sample letter below.
Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides
Suite 2214, 8561 8A Avenue SW
Calgary, AB, Canada, T3H 0V5
By email: email@example.com
Dear Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides:
Re: Bowness Surface Barrier Project
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your colleagues at the Province for the recent gains made towards flood mitigation. The recent renewal of the TransAlta Agreement and the funding of the Bow River Reservoir Options Feasibility Study both get Alberta closer to the goal line!
In April 2021, the City of Calgary Administration announced a decision to delay further design work on the Bowness Surface Barrier Project until the Government of Alberta (GoA) has had an opportunity to consider upstream flood mitigation measures. This is a potential delay of a few years. I support this delay as I believe the proposed barrier is ineffective and a successful solution can be found upstream of Calgary. With this delay, comes an opportunity to look at flood mitigation measures for the Bow River as a whole prior to making decisions about a barrier in Bowness.
As river levels rise, groundwater flooding is the dominant cause of flood damage in Bowness. A solution that controls groundwater is imperative. The City has completed groundwater studies that show that with construction of the proposed Bowness Flood Barrier, with the design maximum release rate of 1230 m3/s residents of Bowness will experience extensive groundwater flooding. For most Bowness residents, this damage will be of the same order as the devastating 2013 flood. This study and resident experience support that the current maximum release rate of 800 m3/s defines a damage threshold above which the community incurs significant flood damage. Protecting Bowness and other Bow River communities from flood damages, lost livelihoods and potential loss of life requires adequate upstream mitigation as the province has committed to for the Elbow River.
As our MLA for Calgary-Bow, we seek your assistance to ensure the Province continues its efforts to pursue flood mitigation options for the Bow River and that those options are designed to hold the flow rate of the river to a level that prevents both overland and ground water flooding for Bowness and throughout the City.
Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides, MLA for Calgary-Bow
Suite 2214, 8561 – 8A Avenue SW
Canada T3H 0V5
Honourable Sonya Savage, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas
Room 224, Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
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