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Bowness Flood Barrier FAQ

Project schedule and process | Barrier design | Groundwater | Privacy | Environment

Project schedule and process


Bowness Flood FAQ

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The flood protection work in Bowness focuses on the area along the river’s edge, roughly between the CP Rail tracks and the Shouldice Bridge.

As part of the preliminary design phase, approximately 130 riverfront properties have been identified within the proposed barrier alignment.That said, because the technical design work has not yet been completed, this number could change.

Citizen and community engagement is a critical piece of this project. We realize the potential impacts and are committed to working with you to ensure that you have the information you need and the right channels for sharing your thoughts, concerns and ideas.

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Homeowners are free to discuss the project with potential buyers, using The City’s website as a resource. Since the project is still in the early stages of planning, the website will be the best resource for up-to-date project information.

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From a financial perspective, it was deemed impossible to purchase all properties in the current flood hazard area. The buy-out costs have been estimated to be up to several times greater than the cost of developing new upstream mitigation. The costs that would be associated with building demolition, conversion of properties to parkland, and incentives to assist homeowners to relocate make this too costly an option. Property buy-outs are also very disruptive to communities and have significant impacts on property owners.

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The Inglewood Flood Barrier project occurred between, approximately, 1998 and 2011. It protects the community of Inglewood from river flooding. The barrier is located on public land and 12 private properties. As the local context, geography, design requirements, community, land owners and economic context are all different, this project will draw on lessons learned from the Inglewood project, but will not be the same.

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Barrier design


Bowness Flood FAQ - 2

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The City’s conceptual work looked at earthen berm barriers as well as floodwalls. Once we enter the detailed design phase, we will analyze where those barriers should be placed, how they function, how tall they are, and aesthetics.

It’s important to note that because much of the riverfront property in Bowness is privately owned, The City will work with individual property owners to gather their input, and discuss their concerns and ideas as the detailed design work gets underway.

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From the conceptual design, we have an idea of potential barrier heights. However, the unique elevation (height) of the riverbank is a key factor in determining the height and location of the barrier for each property and this be refined during the technical design phase. Our initial conceptual work reflected that barriers may range anywhere from 0.5 metres (1.5 feet) in height in some areas to 2.0 metres (6.5 feet) in height in other areas. The average barrier height over the length of the project is 0.8m (2.62 feet).

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Part of the design process includes verifying the impact that any potential flood protection measures could have on flood levels both upstream and downstream. Studies to date show that the impacts of a barrier would be negligible.

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Study of local lot drainage will be conducted as part of the technical design process and the barrier will be designed with detailed consideration of local topography.

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Erosion potential of the adjacent bank would be assessed during the barrier design. Where required to create a stable barrier, erosion protection will be incorporated into the design.

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Technical studies have shown that even with a potential new upstream dam, local flood protection is also required to protect Bowness. The location, type and extent of the final structure will be determined during the detailed design.

As part of the preliminary design process, the project team is gathering detailed information about each property, consulting with home owners and community members and conducting technical studies, including geotechnical and groundwater studies. All of this information will be taken into consideration into our recommendation of what the best flood barrier for Bowness will look like.

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Bowness Flood FAQ - 3

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Groundwater was modelled during the development of the barrier concepts. This was a high-level study based on generalized soil types. During detailed design, the soil types and groundwater will be investigated in more detail. By understanding how groundwater and the river interact, we’ll better understand the potential impact from groundwater flooding to the community. We expect to learn:

  • Site specific details on the ground conditions, geology, aquifer(s) and groundwater surface water interaction.
  • How quickly changes in the river water levels lead to changes in groundwater levels.
  • How high the groundwater level rises from various flood events.
  • To what extent do changes in the river level affect groundwater.

The information gained from this study will help evaluate the effectiveness that various flood barrier designs have in reducing the impacts associated with rising groundwater levels during floods.

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Groundwater protection is still being considered for the community of Bowness, but more research is needed to understand how groundwater and the river interact. A groundwater study is currently underway to assess what groundwater mitigation options exist. Once we learn more, we’ll see what options are available and are feasible.

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Bowness Flood FAQ - 4

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The purpose of a barrier is to provide flood protection. Unlike barriers on public property that might be suitable for recreational access, The City recognizes that privacy is of concern to property owners along the river. Therefore, public access in Bowness is not being considered. We will work to maintain privacy and security on private property as part of the design process.

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The City has no plans to create public access or encourage recreation along the barrier or riverbank in front of private property in Bowness.

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Bowness Flood FAQ - 5

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Minimizing the impact on trees is an important consideration of the proposed Bowness Flood Barrier project. We understand the value trees serve in providing natural habitats, reinforcing the riverbank, and contributing to the natural environment that exists along the Bow River.

We are still in the preliminary design phase of the project, so it is too early to determine how many trees will be impacted, but our objective is to design a structurally effective barrier that is integrated into the environment while minimizing the impact on existing trees as much as possible.

To achieve this objective, over the next year we will be taking an inventory of all the trees that fall within the proposed alignment of the flood barrier.  We will be assessing the species, age and health of the trees and determining which trees would impact the construction of the barrier. While the loss of some trees will be unavoidable, efforts will be made to select trees for removal that are at the end of their life or otherwise unhealthy.

In addition, during our one-on-one site visits with riverfront property owners, we are working directly with residents to identify trees that have a special significance to property owners. From there, we will determine what avoidance or mitigation measures we can put in place to avoid cutting these trees.

As part of our restoration of the natural environment we will work with homeowners to plant as many replacement trees as possible on the site.

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Balancing the need for effective flood mitigation for our city while taking into consideration the natural environment in riverfront communities is an important factor in this – and all – flood mitigation projects.

As part of our studies, biologists will visit the area to observe and note the wildlife, and species of plants and trees (biophysical impact assessment). While much of the observations can be made on public property, we’ll contact property owners if access is needed.

Also, The City has a Riparian Action Program, which aims to protect riparian habitat. The impact to the riparian areas of all projects are carefully considered and where possible, riparian restoration is undertaken.

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