A DAM IN SPRINGBANK ISN'T THE BEST SOLUTION
THE HARDEST HIT COMMUNITIES OF THE 2013 FLOOD WILL NOT BE PROTECTED
THE COST OF THIS PROJECT CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED BY ITS OWN ENGINEERS
THIS PROPOSED WATER RESERVOIR RISKS NUMEROUS HAZARDOUS OIL AND GAS PIPELINES
SENSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL AREAS, FISH AND WILDLIFE HABITAT WILL BE DESTROYED
GROSSLY INADEQUATE AND MEANINGLESS COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
WITH THIS DAM, THE FLOOD OF 2013 WILL DESTROY ANOTHER COMMUNITY
THE WISEST LOCATION FOR A RESERVOIR IS THE PREVIOUSLY CONSIDERED MCLEAN CREEK PROJECT
The hardest hit communities of the 2013 flood will not be protected
With a calculated launch in the weeks prior to the one-year anniversary of the flood, the Government of Alberta has admitted Springbank “would be the easiest and fastest” location.
But the easiest way isn’t the best way for a vast majority 2013’s hardest hit communities. Because Springbank is located downstream of Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows, this dam will not protect these high-risk communities. Instead, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development has only promised these communities more berms, proven to have easily washed away in 2013. The project will also impact beautiful natural lands and vistas adjacent to the Calgary communities of Elbow Springs, Discovery Ridge, Springbank Hill, Aspen Woods, West Springs and Cougar Ridge, possibly degrading property values and general quality of life in those areas.
Why spend this much money in Springbank when it could be better spent helping highly impacted communities like Bragg Creek, Redwood Meadows and others? And as the project is on the Elbow River is will not help with the major flooding to Calgary's Bow River communities, downtown core and Stampede Park coming from the Bow River. Because of its location, the proposed Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir just doesn’t stand to reason.
If a project of this cost isn’t about protecting the most high-risk communities, why proceed with it?
The Cost of this Project Cannot be Justified by its own Engineers
The cost will be enormous relative to the benefit, according to the Government of Alberta's own engineers. Dollar for dollar, the proposed dam will cost more than the damage it will prevent. And because there is no guarantee with any mitigation measure, the government cannot promise that any flood risk can be eliminated.
This proposed water reservoir risks numerous hazardous oil and gas pipelines
This proposed water system and reservoir for Calgary’s drinking water will be built over or near numerous high pressure crude oil, natural gas and liquid butane pipelines.
And we all know hazardous pipelines and drinking water just don’t mix. 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.
A major water storage reservoir building pressure over or near an active pipeline corridor could inevitably put Calgary drinking water at risk and threaten the health of the Elbow River. How is this consistent with Alberta's Water for Life strategy and Elbow River Water Management Plan, with the later having the stated goal: "Ample clean water for the benefit of all, while maintaining the integrity of the aquatic environment."
Sensitive environmental areas, fish and wildlife habitat and delicate natural water systems will be destroyed
At what environmental cost can we attempt to change naturally flooding areas?
There’s no question diverting and damming a river can have significant negative environmental and social impacts. The planned location covers protected natural areas including some of the last virgin grasslands in southern Alberta and delicate natural creeks. Much of this land has been actively protected and nurtured for over four generations.
The total land area impacted by the project is comparable to the footprint of some open-pit mining operations in the Fort McMurray area. A project of this size that alters natural water resources in the area may put Springbank’s natural underground water systems in jeopardy and have other unforeseen environmental consequences. Life in our community depends on these delicate water systems being protected. The importance of this was clearly recognized by key stakeholders in the area and the Government of Alberta in the Elbow River Water Management Plan.
Overseen by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the plan is to excavate the natural areas currently home to cattle, horses, deer, elk, bear, beaver and many rare birds of prey, such as hawks and bald eagles.
And that’s neither environmentally responsible nor sustainable.
Grossly inadequate and meaningless community engagement
With only a few community meetings to date, and only after being requested by concerned residents, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development has been less than forthcoming about the proposed Springbank super-project.
"Approved" to proceed prior to community engagement, this project has been at the cost of proper community engagement and Rocky View County involvement.
The Government of Alberta seems intent on pushing through this growing infrastructure plan as quickly as possible. Even the government's engineers have admitted this project is moving at an unprecedented pace. This approach can only be an effort to sneak through a fast-tracked approval for political purposes.
So far, the Government of Alberta’s process has been in complete disregard for residents and our own municipal representatives.
With this dam, the flood of 2013 will destroy another community
If approved, Springbank would be another community devastated by the floods of 2013. Immediate impacts would see the flooding of 1,400 acres: homes will be flooded, farms and ranches will disappear and associated jobs lost, fish and wildlife habitat and protected delicate natural areas will be destroyed along with important community programs like Kamp Kiwanis, a residential camp serving thousands of underprivileged and disadvantaged children and their families every year.
But the impact will reach much further. This massive infrastructure project, the single biggest in community history, will change Springbank’s character and way of life forever. And it carries with it the permanent potential of further industrialization of the community.
Calgarians in the Elbow Springs, Discovery Ridge, Springbank, West Springs, Apsen Woods, and Springbank Hill communities may also be impacted by the project as many of those communities exist because of their proximity to the natural beauty of this area.
The wisest location for a reservoir is the previously considered McLean Creek project
All previous historical flood mitigation studies did not recommend the proposed Springbank project. Prior to a last-minute, quiet shift to Springbank, the McLean Creek Reservoir was one of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s lead locations for a mitigating reservoir on the Elbow River. Even by the Government of Alberta’s own description of the McLean Creek project, it would help more communities:
And McLean Creek makes more sense than Springbank:
- McLean Creek Reservoir would be located upstream of Bragg Creek, Redwood Meadows, Tsuu T'ina, Springbank and Calgary, protecting more communities
- It would be located entirely on government-owned lands
- It is located at the headwaters of the Elbow River, where flood build-up starts
- As Crown land (government-owned), McLean Creek is neither populated nor producing agricultural land