About 3500 people are reported missing each year and police, firefighters and search and rescue crews are inspecting Calgary's waterways on Thursday to see if they can recover any missing persons who may have ended up in the river.

Crews gathered at Bearspaw Dam at 10:00 a.m. to get the search underway.

A ground unit is moving south along the Bow River to the city limits and is being supported from the air by HAWCS.

“We have about 28 trained members that are coming out today,” said Janine Steffen, Search and Rescue. “Calgary police come up with certain, specific areas along the river that are probably higher probability, potential human remains that can get caught up and so those are the areas that we focus on.”

“We have an aquatic rescue team that’s very active in the river throughout the year and we’re happy to be able to support today,” said Pete Steenaerts, CFD Assistant Deputy Chief. “So once we’re on the water, our crews are going to have a Calgary Police Service member with them and they’re going to be collaborating on the actual search as well if the ground searchers from Search and Rescue, from police and so on, find anything that requires a closer look, that they’re not able to access, we’ll get in contact with our crews. Our crews will go to that site and we’ll support them in gaining access and to perform the search to determine exactly what’s been found.”

An RCMP helicopter was also expected to take part in the operation to check the Bow River from the southern city limits to the Saskatchewan border but weather conditions interfered.

“We were supposed to fly today, unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t cooperate, we had a little bit of fog set in so we’ll have to reschedule the deployment of the helicopter,” said Corporal Curtis Peters, RCMP Media Relations Officer for Southern Alberta.

Searches will also be done in the River Park area and the Glenmore Reservoir and officials say the operation is conducted at this time of year because the water is clear and the level is low.

“It’s just one more step towards trying to help families recover their loved ones and bring closure to missing person’s cases,” said Peters. "Sometimes missing persons might end up into the water so this is a good chance to recover them and having the assistance of the search and rescue team, scouring the banks, they’re very thorough and very good at what they do, this is a great opportunity to locate someone if they are in fact in the water.”

“We’re going to take the opportunity this year to expand our search of the Elbow River and the Glenmore Reservoir. This is the best time of year because the water levels are low and we certainly will do our best to do a thorough search and look for any human remains,” said S/Sgt. Martin Schiavetta, Homicide and Missing Person Unit.

The Calgary Medical Examiner’s Office will work to identify any bodies that are recovered and will share information with police if it is determined that a criminal offence was committed.