The Alberta government is responding to formal questions from provincial and federal regulators about the proposed Springbank Reservoir project with an 8,000 page document.

The document is in response to requests for further information received last year from Alberta Environment and Parks, the Natural Resources Conservation Board and the federal Canadians Environmental Assessment Agency.

“This submission demonstrates our commitment to doing everything necessary to complete the regulatory process for the Springbank Reservoir,” said McIver.

“Officials with Alberta Transportation have taken great care and the proper time to do this right, to provide a thorough and comprehensive response to the information requests and move this critical project through the regulatory procedure process.”

More information on the responses can be found online, here and here.

The Springbank Reservoir is a $432-million project that would be located about 15 kilometres west of Calgary, near Springbank Road, north of the Elbow River and predominantly east of Highway 22.

The dry reservoir would work in conjunction with the Glenmore Reservoir to temporarily store water in the event of a flood.  At capacity, the reservoir would be able to store water volumes equal to the 2013 flood — roughly 28,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Once regulatory approval is received, officials expect the Springbank Reservoir to be operational within two construction seasons and fully completed within three construction seasons.

McIver says flood mitigation is very important for the City of Calgary and the province should have no intention of “dragging its heels.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency promises to engage with the public prior to a final decision on the Springbank Reservoir, but offered no clear timeline of when that could happen. 

The Calgary River Communities Action Group has also suggested the earliest the project could be finished would be sometime around 2023.

Growing concerns 

Despite the province taking next steps to get the Springbank Reservoir approved, there is still growing controversy around the project.

The Tsuut’ina Nation is now renewing a campaign against the reservoir which sits about 400 metres north of the First Nation and squarely in its territory.

The First Nation remains strongly opposed to the projects because of unknowns surrounding ground water resources, including the quality and quantity of drinking water. There are also concerns of an increased risk of flooding on the reserve.

The Springbank Community Association is also questioning the reservoir, as it’s purely a flood mitigation option, but not able to address drought, water management and supply.

Even some members of the UCP aren’t on board with the project. Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin has asked the transportation minister to reconsider the Springbank Reservoir and instead take another look at the McLean Creek Dam, a proposal which was quashed years ago.

The online group, DamMcLeanCreek, also views that proposal as an option that could potentially ease concerns on Calgary’s future water supply and protect upstream communities like Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows.

Councillors in Rocky View County also met earlier this year and voted in favour of formally opposing the plan.

The county says the reservoir project directly impacts 87 residential homes on or near the reservoir and would result in the loss of nearly 1,600 hectares of ranch land.