The PC plan to turn Springbank into a "dry dam" was less than straightforward. In a scramble to find politically convenient solutions to the possibility of another 100-year flood, the proposed Springbank Dam was hastily and quietly chosen over a more viable option in McLean Creek, upstream of Redwood Meadows, Bragg Creek and the Tsuu T'ina Nation. Unfortunately, this massive industrial project was pushed forward by the former PC government without any consultation with local residents or Rocky View County. In fact, most families in the area first learned about the proposed dam on the news.
This project continues to grow in scope and size—negatively affecting thousands of residents in the Springbank area and western Calgary neighbourhoods—at an unprecedented pace and incredible expense to taxpayers.
What and where is this proposed "dry dam?"
Located 14 kilometres west of Calgary, the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir (called SR1 by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development) plan calls for:
• Concrete dam designed to divert and store a portion of high-water levels on the Elbow River in the event of a 1-in-100-year flood
• As of March 2015, project size has grown to 3,475 acres–about 40% larger than Glenmore Reservoir
• Diversion channel approximately 4 miles long carrying water from the Elbow River to dam site
• Massive concrete inlet structure feeding into the dam itself
• Additional diversion weir south of the Elbow River through the existing site of Kamp Kiwanis
• Berm running over 2 miles in length at a height of over nine stories
• Multiple active gas and oil pipeline crossings including one involving the same pipeline that has been responsible for two pipeline spills near the Glennifer Lake Reservoir west of Red Deer. Those spills were caused by the age of those pipelines and increased water flows in the river as a result of the reservoir during heavy rains. That same pipeline traverses the area intended for the Springbank Reservoir raising risks to Calgary's drinking water supply.
• Raising of Springbank Road and Highway 22 as well as a new bridge crossing
• Provisional land requirements taking even more land, increasing the size of the environmental footprint and cost of the project
• The total land area impacted by the project is comparable to some open-pit mining operations in the Fort McMurray area
What will all this cost taxpayers?
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development originally estimated $158 million.
The February 18, 2015 Cost/Benefit Analysis now puts the project cost at $263,668,000 with an annual operation and maintenance requirement of $1,800,000. However, this cost benefit analysis inaccurately bases land acquisition costs on the original 1,760 acre footprint rather than the Government's new requirement of over 3,475 acres-more than doubling the land expenditure in the Cost/Benefit Analysis.
Additionally, a number of experts continue to believe that the per acre cost of high-value land in Springbank land has been estimated unreasonably low.