As the City of Calgary continues its effort to mitigate potential damage from river flooding, current conditions in the mountains suggest a massive flood is unlikely, but cannot be completely ruled out, this year. 

“We know that at this time of year river flooding is top of mind for Calgarians,” said Sandy Davis, program manager for the City of Calgary’s flood risk awareness program. ““This year’s snowpack in the mountains is average or even a little bit less than average. Although we may be looking at a slightly wetter than normal spring, there are no indications that this will mean that we will or won’t have a river flood this year.”

“River floods on our rivers are caused primarily by intense rainfall usually in our mountains and foothills. These events are difficult to predict.”

According to Davis, the City has made significant progress in addressing flooding and reducing risk of damage in the years following the devastating flooding of the Bow River and Elbow River in 2013.

“We’ve been working with communities to build resilience to river flooding. We have successfully reduced the risk of river flood damages by one-third. Projects like upgrades to the Glenmore Dam and the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir project on the Elbow River will significantly reduce the risk further.”

“We’ve done a lot towards improving our forecasting and monitoring capabilities, improving preparedness at the City for emergency response, as well as several pieces of infrastructure that help protect against river flood damage.”

David admits that it would be impossible to completely eliminate the risk of flooding. “For 2019, the City has already stepped up are monitoring weather conditions and river conditions so that we’re more prepared if a flood occurs.”

The City has identified several additional projects considered critical for flood resiliency, the most vital of which would be an upstream reservoir to contain flood water before it reaches Calgary.  “These pieces, with the reservoirs working cooperatively with local community-level flood barriers, would provide the protection we need against another 2013-sized flood.”

The upstream reservoir and community-level flood barriers are still in the initial stages of planning.

Davis encourages Calgarians to prepare ahead of a flood and recommends a visit to the City of Calgary’s flood information website for additional information. “Our floods happen very quickly and we all need to be prepared to respond quickly,” said Davis. “Citizens can be prepared, they have a role to play in reducing the potential for damages from flooding.”

In addition to the online information, the City will be hosting walking tours of ‘the flood protection elements that are being woven into the landscape downtown’. To register for a tour, visit the Flood Information website.

With files from CTV’s Bill Macfarlane