Cochrane residents are being encouraged to stay informed on the various options currently being assessed by the provincial government to address flood and drought risk around the Bow River basin.
“It’s a big deal, it’s a big project for our region, and I encourage you to take a look at that and encourage landowners in the area to start providing feedback to the province,” mayor Jeff Genung said at the February 14 council meeting.
“There’s a website for Albertans to go and take a look at, it’s a massive project with a really long timeframe to it, they’re just getting into the details now, but all three of these are important for not only drought but also water storage and flood mitigation.”
Currently, Alberta Environment and Parks are assessing potential reservoir locations in three areas: on reserve land between Seebe and Mini Thni (Morley), an expansion of the existing Ghost reservoir, or at the ‘Glenbow East’ site just upstream of the Bearspaw dam and the city.
“All three affect the region differently, and us being included in that with the Glenbow East being one that would probably impact Cochrane the most,” the mayor said (the town hasn’t taken a position on which option would be the most or least preferred).
The province’s feasibility study on the reservoir options is expected to conclude in early 2023.
“A lot of work’s been done, and it’s quite interesting,” Genung said.
“If you go on the website they actually do a drone flyover like we did with our 1A project to show different levels of where the flooding, in the event of a large flood, where the water levels would get to in each of the three options.”
Cochranites can visit the ‘Bow River reservoir options’ page at Alberta.ca for more information and a contact for the Bow River Reservoir Options project team carrying out the feasibility study. It includes representatives from Bow River municipalities, First Nations, industry, irrigation districts, environmental organizations and provincial and federal government departments. The group has worked on water management strategy for the last decade, and their recommendation for a reservoir option was put forward in 2017.
Meanwhile, the town’s work on securing an expanded water license continues. Genung and administration met with their Okotoks counterparts earlier this month to hear more about that town’s approach to their own need for expanded water supply.
“Okotoks has had their water issues similar to what we’re starting to get into with our own community,” Genung said.
“They’re a little bit earlier in the program, so they shared some insights on how to liaise with Alberta Environment and Parks and some suggestions, and then they’re kind of going away from the water pipeline from the City of Calgary and going to their own water treatment plant on the Bow and piping it into Okotoks.”