Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir
The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir, or Springbank Project, is a dry reservoir that will store water temporarily during a flood. It will work in tandem with the Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary. Together, the combined storage capacity would accommodate water volumes equal to the 2013 flood.
On January 29, the Alberta government announced it had acquired 188 hectares (465 acres) of land needed to build the Springbank Reservoir project.
Read the news release: Protecting Calgary from future floods
The following statement was made by Ryan Robinson on behalf of the Robinson family:
"An agreement has been reached between my family and the Government of Alberta for the transfer of about three quarter-sections of our land and the relocation of our ranch in Springbank, Alberta. We took this step with the Government for several reasons. First, the agreement with Alberta significantly protects and preserves heritage ranch lands and buildings, some of which have been in our family for five generations. Second, the burden of living under the cloud of the proposed project has been heavy. We needed certainty for our children and grandchildren. This agreement creates that certainty. Finally, we have a number of ranch employees that are like family to us who deserve to know what the future holds for them.
"We understand that the decision to pursue the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir was not an easy one for the Government of Alberta. It has not been easy for us either. However, we understand the Government’s need to protect communities from devastating floods like the one that happened in Southern Alberta in 2013. Governments must make tough decisions sometimes, and we respect the steps taken to resolve this very complicated issue."
"We will not take any questions or comment further on the Springbank Reservoir. It is time for our family to move on and focus on our futures."
How it Works
Conceptual Animation of the Springbank Project
During a flood, a diversion channel carries water from the Elbow River to the off-stream reservoir, which would have a storage capacity of 70.2 million cubic metres or about 28,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. When peak waters have passed, an outlet structure safely releases the water back to the Elbow River in a controlled manner.
The Springbank Reservoir will work together with the Glenmore Reservoir, which has 10 million cubic metres of available flood storage, to achieve the level of protection required.
The reservoir will be approximately 15 kilometres west of Calgary near Springbank Road, north of the Elbow River and predominantly east of Highway 22. Refer to the May 2018 Public Information Session Boards for more detail.
What it Looks Like
A diversion structure, with several components that work together, controls how much flood water enters the diversion channel.
The diversion channel then carries flood waters to the storage reservoir. The channel is about 4.5 km long and has a bottom width of 24 m. The channel cut would be similar to an irrigation canal with side slopes of about 3:1 (horizontal:vertical). It will generally be vegetated with native species; erosion protection may be provided at select locations where fast water speed is anticipated.
At the southeast end of the reservoir, an earthen dam will have a terraced profile and grass surface. At its tallest, it will be approximately 27 metres high or approximately the height of an 8-story building.
The total area within the project perimeter is approximately 3,870 acres, including road allowances, structures and the maximum extent of any backwater during emergency scenarios. This perimeter also includes surplus borders around the various components of the infrastructure that may or may not be required as the precise location of the components is defined through additional engineering assessment and design.
The reservoir's full supply level is achieved when it is storing the 2013 flood event (water elevation 1,210.5 metres, based on current conceptual design). Based on the current dam location this flooded area would be approximately 1,950 acres.
Updated Project Timeline
Protecting Calgary and other downstream communities from the inevitable damage of another flood along the Elbow River remains a priority for the Government of Alberta and getting the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir (SR1) approved remains a primary focus for Alberta Transportation.
Alberta Transportation is working to provide supplementary information to regulators. During this time, the Government of Alberta is also continuing engagement efforts with First Nations, landowners, Rocky View County, the City of Calgary and other stakeholders.
Alberta Transportation is responsible for the project development, applying for regulatory approvals and, once received, construction. Once construction is complete, Alberta Environment has responsibility for its management and operations.
Stantec Consulting has been retained for the design and engineering, and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). An EIA is required for various environmental regulatory processes and is now underway. Information gathered during the EIA process is used to evaluate the potential positive and negative effects of a proposed project.
The EIA for the Springbank Project is examining a variety of issues, including but not limited to air quality, noise, vegetation and wetland, historical resources, traditional, knowledge and traditional land use. Learn more about the EIA by reading the Terms of Reference.
- Terms of Reference - Feb 5, 2015 (21 pages, <1 MB)
On June 23, 2016, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) announced that a federal environmental assessment is required for the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir.
The decision comes after CEAA concluded its 45-day review of the project to determine if a federal environmental assessment is required. In accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012), Alberta Transportation submitted the Springbank Reservoir project description to CEAA on May 6, 2016. The CEAA review, which included a 20-day public comment period, is a standard practice for projects that could meet or exceed certain triggers within the legislation. You can find more information at:
- CEAA – Public Notice Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project
- Springbank Off-stream Reservoir FAQ: EIA Work at McLean Creek - Dec 2016 (2 pages, <1 MB)
Engagement with stakeholders, including landowners, municipalities, Aboriginal communities, infrastructure companies and others has been ongoing throughout the project and will continue as it progresses. If you have questions or comments, please email:
In October 2015, government announced it would move forward with the Springbank Project, combined with upstream local flood mitigation, to reduce the impact of flooding on the Elbow River.
Choosing the Springbank Project
In June 2015, Alberta Environment and Parks commissioned the Dutch research foundation Deltares to review the original infrastructure proposal reports and a subsequent benefit/cost study for flood mitigation work on the Elbow River and provide a recommendation on which project to take forward to construction-ready status.
The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir and upstream local mitigation were chosen over the McLean Creek Dam because the Springbank option is less costly, will have less environmental impact, has shorter timelines, and will capture more runoff due to the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir's location further downstream.
The Springbank option is also:
- Closer to operational response teams and access roads, and less vulnerable to damage during extreme weather events
- Less sensitive to impacts from sediment and debris
- More environmentally friendly than the McLean Creek Dam, which would require the removal of trees and vegetation from the reservoir area and would irreparably alter the habitat for wildlife and fish population
- Quicker to construct and less likely to be negatively impacted by weather related delays or risk of catastrophic failure
- Review of Bragg Creek/Springbank Off-Stream and McLean Creek Flood Storage - Oct 7, 2015 (9 pages, <1 MB)
- Recommendations on the Elbow River Major Infrastructure Decisions - Oct 2015 (6 pages, <1 MB)