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Calgary's Flood Resilience Plan

Building resilience to flooding is one of our top priorities. Calgary’s flood resilience plan uses a three-layer approach where each element works together to reduce our flood risk and make Calgary more resilient.

Upstream flood protection on the Bow and Elbow Rivers:
Reservoirs will increase water storage and help slow larger flows from the mountains that can cause river floods.

Community-level flood protection:
Permanent infrastructure, like flood barriers, will better protect vulnerable communities from smaller floods and work with future upstream reservoirs to protect communities from at least a 2013-level flood.

Property-level flood protection:
Changes to building regulations and bylaws, limiting types of development in flood prone areas and public education will make people, homes and communities more flood resilient.

Read Calgary's Flood Resilience Plan​ summary.

To learn more about how the plan was created, see Developing Calgary's Flood Resilience Plan.

Calgary's Flood Mitigation Plan

Click to view larger image.

Elbow River Mitigation

Upstream flood protection

Springbank Reservoir (SR1)

This Government of Alberta project, located about 18 km upstream of Calgary, is a “dry reservoir” that only holds water during floods. During a flood, some water would be diverted from the Elbow River into SR1. The water would be temporarily stored and released slowly back into the Elbow River towards Calgary. This project will reduce flood risk by 80% on the Elbow River.

This project is in the federal regulatory approval process. Once all regulatory approvals are in place, construction will begin and the reservoir will be fully operational after the third year of construction.

Community-level flood protection

Glenmore Dam Gates

By installing new, higher gates at the Glenmore Dam, we’ve doubled the amount of water that can be stored in the Reservoir, increasing the volume by 10 billion litres. This enables us to better control high river flows in the spring on the Elbow River.

Until the Springbank Reservoir is completed upstream, the Glenmore Dam gates alone will be able to manage a 2005-size flood.

Status: The new gates will be working in time for the 2020 flood season and we’re anticipating the bridge deck and pathway will be reopened to the public this summer.

Bow River mitigation

Upstream flood protection

New upstream reservoir on the Bow River

This Government of Alberta project on the Bow River would capture water from large floods. It could also provide an additional source of water in the face of climate uncertainty and risk of drought.

The Province is examining three storage options for a reservoir on the Bow River. If constructed, the reservoir would be a major component in flood mitigation and water supply for Calgary.

Status: In the spring 2020 budget, the provincial government set aside funds for this project to continue to Phase 2 – a feasibility assessment.

Modified operations at TransAlta’s Ghost Reservoir

This agreement between the Government of Alberta and TransAlta has the Ghost Reservoir kept low during flood season to help control the flow of water through Calgary and significantly reduces potential flood damages in Calgary.

Status: The agreement to modify operations at Ghost Reservoir for flood mitigation purposes is in place until May 2021 with plans to extend.

Community-level flood protection

Permanent flood barriers

Given the topography of the foothills west of Calgary, it’s unlikely that a large enough reservoir could be built to completely slow the river flow of a 2013- level flood without causing overland flooding in some Bow River communities.

Permanent flood barriers in flood-prone areas would prevent overland flood water from entering:

Until a new upstream reservoir is built on the Bow River, community flood barriers would protect the communities from smaller floods that are more likely to happen.

Status: Work on the individual flood barrier projects are in various stages of design and community engagement.

Other mitigation projects: In addition, stormwater and sanitary system improvements, gravel bar removals and bridge improvements have improved overall flood resiliency in Calgary.

Flood mitigation projects in Calgary

Since the 2013 flood, with support from the Alberta government we have committed over $150 million for flood mitigation and resilience projects throughout Calgary.

Mitigation work that is already complete or is underway has reduced Calgary’s exposure to flood damage by about 50 per cent compared to 2013.

See a list of some of the projects we’ve been working on below, or check out our interactive flood project map.

River Flood Resilience Projects

River Flood Mitigation Barriers


Completion Timeline

Centre St Bridge: flood barrier Completed
Heritage Dr S.E.: flood barrier 2020
West Eau Claire: flood barrier Completed
Bonnybrook Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP): flood barrier 2021
Sunnyside flood barrier 2022
Downtown flood barrier 2022
Bowness flood barrier To be determined

Stormwater System Improvements

Bridge Improvements


Completion Timeline

9 Ave SE 2020

Gravel Bar & Bank Stabilization Projects


Completion Timeline

Flood Recovery Erosion Control Program Complete
Downstream of Centre Street Gravel Bar Modification 2021
Mission island: Elbow River gravel bar 2020
Crowchild Trail NW: Bow River gravel bar 2022
Scollen Bridge: Elbow River gravel bar 2022

Sanitary System Improvements


Completion Timeline

Roxboro Sanitary Liftstation Complete
Sunnyside Sanitary Liftstation Complete

Other Civic Projects


Completion Timeline

Municipal Complex: drainage improvements Complete
Zoo flood mitigation Complete

Private property level protection - Calgarians

Property-level and flood policy measures, such as changes to building codes and limiting types of development in flood prone areas, are an important part of protecting Calgary over the long-term when combined with the proposed structural measures and emergency response plans.

Since 2013, changes to the Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaw provide guidance and better regulate development within the Flood Hazard Area.

We’re currently exploring potential changes to land use and building regulations here there is heightened flood risk. This includes examining restriction of land uses and occupancy types in the floodplain, such as care facilities and schools.

Citizens have an important role to play in flood resiliency. Being prepared for potential floods, incorporating flood protection measures for your property and following building regulations for flood zones will increase resiliency and decrease the likelihood of damage during the next flood.