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CDA 2015 Annual Conference

Congrs annuel 2015 de lACB


CANADIAN DAM ASSOCIATION Mississauga, ON, Canada
ASSOCIATION CANADIENNE DES BARRAGES 2015 Oct 5-8

THE USE OF DAMS TO REDUCE FUTURE FLOODING IN ALBERTA

Syed Abbas, Director, Ministry of Transportation, Transportation, Government of Alberta, 3rd fl., Twin
Atria Building 4999 - 98 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6B 2X3. E-mail:
syed.abbas@gov.ab.ca (author for correspondence)
Muhammad Akbar, Principal Consultant, Kohsaar Land Resources Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
E-mail: adil.akbar@kohsaarlr.com

ABSTRACT

The flooding in Southern Alberta in 2013 was the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history. There were
billions of dollars in property damage, enormous personal and economic disruption, and some loss of life. The Elbow
River experienced extreme flooding during this event with severe damage occurring within the City of Calgary
downstream of the Glenmore Reservoir. Extreme flooding and severe damage was also experienced within the Town
of High River, the largest community in the Highwood River Basin. The 2013 flood peak was the highest ever
recorded in both the Elbow and Highwood Rivers, estimated at around the 1:200 year return period event.

Following the flooding of June 2013, the Government of Alberta (GoA) set up the Southern Alberta Flood Recovery
Task Force (SAFRTF). This task force had the dual responsibility of identifying flood mitigation measures as well as
recommending measures to be taken to prevent similar disasters from occurring in the future. Four major studies were
initiated covering the Bow, Elbow, Oldman and South Saskatchewan River Basins (AMEC), Sheep and Highwood
River Basins (AECOM), Red Deer River Basin (Stantec), and the Athabasca River Basin (Golder). Recommendations
from all four studies included structural and non-structural mitigation measures with the major emphasis being placed
on structural measures including the construction of several flood retention dams as well as berming for local
protection of communities.

RSUM

Les inondations dans le sud de l'Alberta en 2013 ont t la catastrophe naturelle la plus coteuse de l'histoire
canadienne. Il y a eu des milliards de dollars de dommages aux proprits, d'normes perturbations pour les personnes
et lconomie et, mme, des pertes de la vie. Lors de ces vnements, la rivire Elbow a caus des inondations
extrmes avec des dommages majeurs dans la ville de Calgary en aval du rservoir Glenmore. Une situation semblable
a galement touch la ville de High River, la plus grande communaut dans le bassin de la rivire Highwood. Le pic de
la crue de 2013 tait le plus lev jamais enregistr sur les rivires Elbow et Highwood, vnement estim avec une
priode de retour aux environs 1:200 ans.

Suite aux inondations de juin 2013, le gouvernement de l'Alberta a mis en place un groupe de travail pour la remise en
tat du sud de l'Alberta suite aux inondations (SAFRTF, en anglais). Ce groupe de travail avait la double responsabilit
de dterminer les mesures d'attnuation pour les inondations ainsi que de faire des recommandations afin que des
catastrophes semblables ne se produisent plus l'avenir. Quatre grandes tudes ont t inities couvrant les bassins des
rivires Bow, Elbow, Oldman et Saskatchewan Sud (AMEC), les bassins des rivires Sheep et Highwood (AECOM),
le bassin de la rivire Red Deer (Stantec) ainsi que le bassin de la rivire Athabasca (Golder). Les recommandations
des quatre tudes incluaient des mesures d'attnuation structurales et non structurales avec une emphase tant mise sur
les mesures structurales, y compris la construction de plusieurs barrages de rtention des crues ainsi que
lamnagement de bermes pour la protection des communauts locales.
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1 BACKGROUND

Southern Alberta is prone to river flooding and has experienced recurring destruction of property,
devastating financial losses and extreme human suffering over the last couple of decades. The flood events
of 2013 and 2005 in southern Alberta are two stark reminders of such natural hazards Albertans have
suffered in recent years. The unprecedented scale of river flooding in June 2013 impacted more than
100,000 Albertans and caused the tragic loss of four lives, billions of dollars in property damage and
enormous personal and economic disruption (Government of Alberta, 2014a,b; Kovacs and Sandink,
2013). Flood events in spring of 2005 also resulted in the loss of three lives and an economic loss of
hundreds of millions of dollars (Groeneveld, 2006). Kovacs and Sandink (2013) indicate that of the 62
major flood disasters in Canada between 2003 and 2012, resulting in approximately $1.5 billion in riverine
flood damage, five occurred in Alberta with flood damage costs as great as the combined losses in the rest
of Canada. Similarly, the damage from the 2013 floods in southern Alberta is also expected to be
approximately $6 billion, exceeding the losses from all of the flood events in Canada over the previous ten
years.

Although the Government of Alberta (GoA) has improved its flood management strategies in preventing
potential loss of human life and property, almost all of the mitigating measures undertaken over the last
decades have been non-structural and aimed at minimum potential disruption of the local ecosystems. There
have not been any new dams built specifically for flood management or other major flood management
infrastructure built in Alberta since 1992. However, the frequent extreme weather events of the
aforementioned floods and the accelerated development in and around urban centres close to river banks in
the last two decades have prompted the GoA to revisit its flood mitigation strategy to improve its flexibility
to accommodate the prevailing weather extremes and future uncertainties due to climate change (Engineers
Canada - PIEVC, 2008).

1.1 Resilience and Mitigation Framework for Alberta Floods

In the aftermath of the 2013 floods, the GoA set up the Southern Alberta Flood Recovery Task Force
(SAFRTF) and issued the Resilience and Mitigation Framework for Alberta Floods (RMF), outlining the
approach to plan, coordinate, assess and implement flood mitigation projects on a watershed basis
(Government of Alberta, 2014a,b). Because long-term resiliency and robustness of a flood management
system depend on the flexibility of the system to adapt to change quickly and effectively, the RMF
approach is intended to proactively ensure that flood mitigation projects have adequate flexibility in
lowering the risk of future flood events and reducing their negative impacts on communities, the economy,
and the environment.

1.1.1 Flexibility and Resilience

The concept of flexibility in water resources and flood management systems requires finding a strategic
balance between structural and non-structural measures according to the local hydrologic, hydraulic and
weather conditions. DiFrancesco and Tullos (2014) define flexibility of water resources and flood
management systems as the inherent ability of the human and physical elements of a system to cope with,
or adapt to, uncertain and changing conditions, in a timely and cost-effective manner. The five
characteristics of flexible water management systems DiFrancesco and Tullos (2014) describe are slack,
redundancy, connectivity, adjustability, and compatibility/cooperation. Slack refers to the degree of excess
capacity or underutilization of a water resource system, e.g., reservoir flood storage capacity in excess of
design flood volume. Redundancy signifies degree of repetitiveness and diversity of options available to
meet objectives, e.g., the number of flood storage facilities within the system. Connectivity indicates the
ability of any component to attach to any of the other components inside and outside the system, e.g., the
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number of conjunctive use operations in place. Adjustability shows the ability to add, modify, and remove
any component of the system and/or its operations, e.g., level of governmental approval needed to adjust
reservoir operations plans (rule curves) or storage allocation. Cooperation is the ability of a system to utilize
and share available information across components, e.g., use of decision support systems (DSS) in planning
and operations.

1.1.2 RMF Strategic Guidelines and Flood Mitigating Approach

To ensure the flexibility and resilience in the new and existing flood management system, the GoA
provided seven key guidelines to the consulting firms contracted for undertaking engineering studies to
review and assess flood mitigation options for four major river basins; Athabasca river, Bow, Elbow and
Oldman rivers, Highwood, Sheep and South Saskatchewan rivers, and the Red Deer river, the most
flood-prone river basins in southern Alberta. These guidelines seek to strike a practical balance between the
use of non-structural means for limiting public exposure to flood events and structural measures to reducing
the seriousness of the flood hazard. However, while reducing public exposure to flood hazards may easily
be accomplished by requiring future developments to be built outside of flood risk zones; moving people,
property and economic infrastructure out of flood ways may not be a practical option for the communities
which are already located in flood risk zones and have expanded over the last four decades. Thus, for the
downtown business district of Calgary and the Town of High River, for example, applicability and utility of
these non-structural measures to reducing public exposure to flood hazard would be extremely limited. The
best course of action for mitigating flood vulnerability under these circumstances sought by the RMF is by
reducing the seriousness of the (flood) hazard by lowering peak flows through the flood management
system which could most viably be accomplished using structural measures. Structural options may include
individual measures or some combination of dams, berms, dykes or levees, flood ways, seawalls, and
building standards.

1.1.3 Benefits of Structural Approach and Flood Control Infrastructure

The significance of using structural options in water resources and flood management systems cannot be
overstated. Over the years, investment in flood and water management infrastructure has greatly benefitted
Canada in saving lives and property by providing the first line of defence in riverine floods, the most
common natural hazard faced by Canadians. For example, water resources experts believe that in 1995 the
storage reservoirs in the Oldman River basin reduced peak flows in the Oldman River by about 1 m which
saved the two bridges crossing the river in Lethbridge (AMEC, 2014). Similarly, the Twin Valley reservoir
downstream of the High River helped in reducing the impact of the Little Bow River flood flows on the
downstream Travers Dam (AMEC, 2014). Also, in the 1997 flood in Manitoba, the Red River Floodway
project, completed at a cost of $63.2 million in 1968, saved the province an estimated $760 million in direct
damages (Shrubsole et al., 2003). The Red River Floodway is a 50 km-long diversion channel around the
City of Winnipeg built as a major part of the Manitoba flood management system. In 2011, controlled
release of flood waters through the Portage Diversion and other flood protection infrastructure prevented an
uncontrolled breach of the Assiniboine River dikes, saving an estimated $300 million in damage on the
lower Assiniboine River. It was estimated that without the benefit of those flood structures, an unregulated
flow could have cost up to $2.2 billion in potential damage on the lower Assiniboine River (Government of
Manitoba, 2013). These are only a few among many examples which clearly demonstrate potential benefits
of investing in the flood management infrastructure for reducing flood vulnerabilities of communities,
economic infrastructure and the environment.

2 FLOOD MITIGATION STUDIES


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Under the RMFs seven key guidelines, given below, four major flood mitigation feasibility studies were
initiated covering the Bow, Elbow, Oldman and South Saskatchewan River Basins (AMEC), Sheep and
Highwood River Basins (AECOM), Red Deer River Basin (Stantec), and the Athabasca River Basin
(Golder Associates). The seven guiding elements of the mitigation approach under the RMF include:

Overall watershed management that looks at flood and drought and ensures upstream solutions
don't have negative impacts in downstream communities or vice versa
The best technology for river modelling, prediction and warning systems
A review of all pertinent water management and development policies within risk areas
Working with municipalities, the private sector, the public and other stakeholders to gather and act
on the best ideas to advance water management infrastructure in Alberta
Enhancing the government's current approach to erosion control
Supporting communities that are developing their own initiatives for flood mitigation
Supporting individual home owners, so they can better protect their homes from future floods

The standard of protection was selected as at least 1% annual exceedance probability (AEP) for all
proposals. The proposals were expected to identify and examine strategies for reducing flood risk and
enhancing flexibility and resilience of the existing and future flood management systems to floods and
droughts using a practical balance between structural and non-structural measures. For example, measures
ranging from the detention, retention and storage of flood water, to limiting public exposure to flood risk by
relocation and improving and upgrading existing infrastructure. Brief summaries of these studies are
presented in the following. Please note that the following summaries use actual text (material) from the
corresponding reports for the purpose of accuracy and succinctness. Complete full reports of the
aforementioned four studies are available to the public at the GoA website,
http://alberta.ca/flood-mitigation-studies.cfm, and can be consulted for further details.

2.1 Bow, Elbow, Oldman and South Saskatchewan River Basins (Study by AMEC)

The South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) is home to almost 1.6 million people, and is the most
developed and regulated basin in Alberta. The SSRB has a total area of 121,095 km2, and is made up of four
major basins the Red Deer River, Bow River, Oldman River, and South Saskatchewan River. The mean
annual natural flow of the SSRB is made up of about 43% from the Bow River basin, 38% from the Oldman
River basin, 18% from the Red Deer River basin, and < 1% from the South Saskatchewan River basin. The
most significant use of water in the basin is for irrigation. Most of Albertas 640,000 ha of irrigation are
located in the SSRB.

2.1.1 Scope of Study Geographic Extent

AMEC was contracted to undertake a feasibility study of flood mitigation measures for the Bow River,
Elbow River, and Oldman River basins, excluding areas within the City of Calgary.

2.1.2 Development Options Considered

AMEC investigated both structural and non-structural flood and water management strategies for the Bow
River, Elbow River and Oldman river basins. Structural measures that were considered, depending on
circumstance included, Wet and dry flood control reservoirs; Earthen levees or dykes; Flood walls;
Sediment control structures; Bank armouring; Debris capture; and Flood bypasses. Non-structural flood
management strategies included, Wetlands/forestry restoration; Ensuring floodplain mapping is up to date
and correct; Accurate and timely flood warnings; Building code amendments to prescribe appropriate
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damage reduction measures into building construction practices; and Controlling development on
floodplains through land zoning regulations.

2.1.3 Evaluation of the Development Option

Structural and non-structural flood mitigation options (Tables 1 and 2) for the areas located within the Bow
River, the Elbow River and the Oldman River basins were evaluated using a decision support model based
on a multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) tool and source-pathway-receptor concept. The model was
developed by the AMEC in consultation with the SAFRTF. Based on the detailed expert evaluations in
consultation with the SAFRTF, structural options were selected for flood mitigation. Two potential projects
were identified for further economic appraisal, Springbank Off-stream Reservoir (SR1) and McLean Creek
Dry Dam (MC1).

2.1.4 Economic Appraisal and Selection of the Potential Flood Mitigation Project

An economic appraisal with benefit-cost analysis was conducted to compare the long-term economic
viability of the two projects. The provisional cost of construction of a dam at MC1 and SR1, including a
25% contingency allowance and 20% for regulatory processes and engineering, was estimated at $239.6
million and $159.7 million, with an estimated benefit/construction cost ratio of 0.6 and 0.9, respectively.
These are construction costs only and the SR1 estimate does not include costs for land acquisition. Detailed
cost estimates are available with the drawings in Appendices F (MC1) and G (SR1) the AMEC report,
volume 4 (AMEC, 2014b) available at http://alberta.ca/flood-mitigation-studies.cfm.

2.1.5 Conclusion

AMEC concluded that based on the assumptions and limited data available for this report, it is likely that an
economic case can be made to invest upwards of $200 million on flood defence infrastructure in the Elbow
River basin. However, AMEC also recommended that a robust economic appraisal be undertaken prior to
the investment in a flood control dam on the Elbow River.

Table 1. Flood Mitigation Options (AMEC, 2014a)


Structural Non-Structural
Wet Dam Managed Retreat
Dry Dam Warning /Forecasting/Management
Levee/Dyke Land Zoning (Restricted
Mitigation
By-Pass Channel Development)
Option
Erosion Protection Buy-Outs
Improve Conveyance Flood Proofing
Sediment/Debris Control Building Code Changes

Table 2. Geographic Extent (EMEC, 2014a).


Bow River Basin Elbow River Basin Oldman River Basin
Canmore Bragg Creek Crowsnest Pass
Exshaw First Nations (Tsuu Tina) Cardston
Kananaskis Country Upstream of Glenmore Dam First Nations (Piikani)
First Nations (Stoney/Nakoda) Downstream of Glenmore Dam First Nations (Kainai)
Area Cochrane Pincher Creek Lethbridge
Priddis Fort MacLeod
City of Calgary
First Nations (Siksika)

2.2 Sheep and Highwood River Basins (Study by AECOM)


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Highwood River originates in the Canadian Rockies Kananaskis area from Storm and Cataract Creeks. The
river flows east through the Town of High River and drains into the Bow River south of Calgary. The Sheep
River drains into the Highwood River near Okotoks and Aldersyde. Highwood River Basin has a total
drainage area of 2,311.4 km2 at Water Survey of Canada (WSC) Station 05BL009 Highwood River near
Aldersyde upstream of the confluence with the Sheep River, and 3,952 km2 at WSC Station 05BL024
Highwood River near the mouth. For reporting purposes, the Highwood River Basin includes only the
Highwood River (AECOM, 2014).

2.2.1 Scope of Study Geographic Extent

AECOM Canada Ltd., was retained to provide engineering services for flood mitigation assessments and
assess flood mitigation schemes in the Sheep and Highwood river basins in southern Alberta. The
objectives for the study included (a) review and evaluation of flood mitigation proposals (b) development
of selection criteria and (c) identify a water management strategy for flood mitigation.

2.2.2 Development Options Considered

Both structural and non-structural flood mitigation options were considered. Non-structural measures
included zoning, flood hazard mapping and the prevention of developments in flood hazard areas.
However, there were limited opportunities for non-structural flood mitigation within the communities in the
Highwood River Basin. Therefore, several structural measures were taken into consideration, including,
Dam Site Schemes H5(2) and H2, Flood By-Pass BP1, Diversion into Little Bow River Basin and
Combined Northern By-Pass and Southern Diversion.

2.2.3 Evaluation of the Development Option

Feasibility of the reviewed projects was assessed based on technical feasibility, economic cost and benefit,
social and cultural impacts and benefits and environmental impacts and benefits. The relative rankings of
Scheme H5(2), Scheme H2, flood by-pass Options D3 and E, the Tongue Creek alternative and the LBR2
flood diversion into the Little Bow River basin were assessed using a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) analysis.
The analysis considers the social, environmental and financial aspects of the projects and assigns a ranking
to each project. The TBL analysis showed that the flood by-pass around the north side of the town was more
advantageous than Schemes H5(2) and H2 and the Options D3/E flood by-pass alternatives were taken to be
the preferred alternative due to environmental impacts and cost relative to the Tongue Creek and LBR2
Schemes.

2.2.4 Economic Appraisal and Selection of the Potential Flood Mitigation Project

The construction of the H5(2) scheme was estimated to cost in the order of $392 million and the annual
maintenance cost was estimated to be $7.8 million. The estimated construction and annual maintenance
costs for the H2 scheme were $253 million and of $5 million, respectively. The design, approval and
construction time for either dam was estimated to require 5-7 years (AECOM, 2014).

The Tongue Creek option has a large impact on fish habitat compared to Option E. As a result, Option E is
the preferable option from an environmental point of view. The estimated construction cost of Option E was
$172 million and the estimated design, approval and construction time was estimated to require 2-5 years.
The Tongue Creek option was estimated to cost $221 million to construct. Of the six alternatives reviewed,
Alternative LBR2 was found to be the most technically feasible alternative (AECOM, 2914).

2.2.5 Conclusion
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Water Survey of Canada has tentatively estimated the peak discharge at Hogg Park, upstream of the
Town of High River, to be 1,820 m3/s during the 2013 flood. A large part of that flow spilled
overbank into the Little Bow River basin and was also stored through general flooding in the Town.
The peak discharge through the Town of High River during the 2013 flood has not yet been
quantified
The largest flow that should be discharged through the Town of High River during a 1% (100-year)
design flood event has been estimated at 750 m/s, provided the old Centre Street (Highway 2A)
bridge is replaced with a new bridge designed for 750 m/s
A flood relief channel from the Highwood River is part of the 2013 Flood Mitigation Master Plan
for the Town of High River, to provide flood relief for events greater than the 2013 event and in the
event the Centre Street bridge is blocked by debris
The recently constructed local flood protection dykes in the Town of High River are part of the
2013 Flood Mitigation Master Plan for the Town of High River and were designed with the dyke
crest level 1 m above the estimated water level during an event equal to the 2013 flood
The implementation of a flood relief channel at the Town of High River is preferable over
constructing either the Scheme H5(2) or Scheme H2 dry dams
A flood relief channel at High River could divert flood flow either north around High River or
south into the Little Bow River basin. The three flood relief channel alignments that appeared to be
technically most viable were:
o Option E flood by-pass north around High River with an all man-made channel
o Tongue Creek flood by-pass north around High River utilising the existing Tongue Creek
o Scheme LBR2 flood diversion south into the Little Bow River basin
Of the three flood relief channel alignments, Tongue Creek and Option E are more viable than
Scheme LBR2. The viability of the Tongue Creek and Option E alignments were found to be very
similar
A single flood relief channel, such as a northern by-pass around the Town of High River or a flood
diversion into the Little Bow River basin, has lower cost and less environmental impact than a
combined scheme that uses one flood by-pass north around the Town of High River and one flood
diversion into the Little Bow River basin
Water supplies for communities in the Highwood River basin consist of groundwater wells. As
such, the water supplies are relatively secure during short-term droughts
Development of irrigation schemes including delivery systems were not considered during this
study
A watershed management program, addressing both water supply and drought, is on-going in the
Highwood River basin

It was recommended that:

The Centre Street bridge in the Town of High River be replaced with a higher bridge that has a
design discharge of 750 m/s, to reduce the risk of the bridge becoming blocked by debris.
Preliminary designs are completed for both the Tongue Creek and Option E flood by-pass
alignments, to determine which alternative is most cost-effective and acceptable to all stakeholders.

2.3 Red Deer River Basin (Study by Stantec)

The characteristics of the Red Deer River basin vary significantly from the headwaters in the eastern slopes
of the Rocky Mountains to the prairie areas of the Blood Indian sub-basin. Past damage due to extreme
flood events has been considerable in the west and along the Red Deer River with localized flooding and
damage occurring throughout the basin. Dickson Dam is a critical control structure for all downstream
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infrastructure and development; its operations under high inflow conditions can mitigate or exacerbate
downstream flooding (Stantec, 2014).

2.3.1 Scope of Study Geographic Extent

Stantec Consulting Ltd., was contracted to conduct the engineering feasibility for the Red Deer River Basin.
The scope of the project was to consider flooding potential within the Red Deer River Basin and to work
independently as well as with stakeholders, to identify locations requiring flood protection measures and to
identify and consider mitigation projects, as may be appropriate for short and long term mitigation needs
(Stantec, 2014).

2.3.2 Development Options Considered

Several structural and non-structural flood mitigation measures were considered. Structural measures
included options, such as, dams with reservoir storage, dry dams, off stream storage, establish and improve
dyking systems, Dickson Dam operation and identification, strengthening of the critical infrastructure
already located in flood ways and erosion control. The non-structural options considered included, creating
and improving basin wide mitigation plans, synthesizing Provincial, Regional and local project priorities
and creating, rationalizing and upgrading water management strategies.

2.3.3 Evaluation of the Development Option

Guided by the RMFs seven key guidelines, several socioeconomic criteria were used for prioritizing the
proposed structural development options. The economics evaluation included net benefit cost, benefit/cost
analysis, operational costs and technical feasibility. The social criteria included, criticality of life, property,
critical infrastructure and environmental; environmental impacts or benefits; social and cultural impacts
and engaged stakeholder support.

2.3.4 Economic Appraisal and Selection of the Potential Flood Mitigation Project

The benefit/cost analysis for the main basin-wide projects is presented in Table 3.

Table 3. Results of the economic analysis of structural options (Stantec, 2014).


Project Benefit/Cost ratio Project Benefit/Cost ratio
Dickson Dam 2.83 9Th Street, Hospital Area 1.90
Sundre 1.38 East Rosedale 1.01
Nacmine 4.10 Buyout Property at Bridge 0.91
Central Drumheller 5.77 East Coulee 0.83
Midland 4.55 Lehigh buyout 0.66
Red Deer Civic Yard 1.34 West Rosedale Buyout 0.42
North Drumheller 4.34 Rosedale 0.14
Willow Estates 5.32 Lehigh Dyke 0.12
Newcastle 1.57 Dry Dam 0.81

Table 4 shows the estimated costs of different flood mitigation options for the Red Deer River basin.
Further details on specific recommended projects within each category can be found in Appendix H
(http://www.alberta.ca/flood-mitigation-studies.cfm). Appendix H also includes projected costs of projects
identified in the course of the study but not recommended for funding under the auspices of a Provincial
flood mitigation program (Stantec, 2014). There are numerous figures showing the proposed structural
flood mitigation options listed in Tables 3 and 4 and have not been reproduce here due to the space
constraints of this manuscript. The reader can find all the details at:
http://www.alberta.ca/flood-mitigation-studies.cfm.
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Table 4. Approximate Costs by Category.


Recommendations Approximate Cost
River System Forecasting $4,750,000
Highway Network Ongoing basis as repairs to infrastructures are required
Sundre - Mountain View County $32,700,000 + $500,000/flood event
Dickson Dam $17,050,000 +$500,000/flood event
City of Red Deer $12,880,000
Drumheller $13,200,000
Total $81,580,000
2.3.5 Conclusion

As is evident from Table 4, the biggest flood mitigation investment of $76,830,000 was suggested for the
improvements in structural options for the location-specific flood mitigation systems for Sundre, Dickson
Dam, City of Red Deer and Drumheller. Stantec was of the view that a majority of these projects it reviewed
were submitted by municipalities to the Flood Recovery Task Force under the Flood Recovery and Erosion
Control Program and seemed to reflect how to best meet the local needs of their communities. Stantec also
recommended that cooperation should be maintained with those municipalities to provide consistency and
support and noted that all engaged stakeholders eagerly anticipate further consultation regarding flood
mitigation throughout the basin into the future (Stantec, 2014).

2.4 Athabasca River Basin (Study by Golder Associates)

Flooding is a concern in the Athabasca River Basin. Significant urban flooding occurs in a number of
municipalities along the main stem of the Athabasca River. In addition, major tributaries, especially the
Pembina and Lesser Slave Rivers, contain large areas of productive farmland which are also subject to
periodic flooding (Golder, 2014). The Athabasca River originates in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The
river flows northeast through the province, past the urban centres of Jasper, Hinton, Whitecourt, Athabasca
and Fort McMurray prior to emptying into Lake Athabasca. Flows from the basin eventually make their
way to the Arctic Ocean. At Jasper, Athabasca and Fort McMurray the mean annual discharge is 2,790,000
dam3, 13,600,000 dam3 and 20,860,000 dam3, respectively. The drainage areas at Jasper, Athabasca and
Fort McMurray are 3,880 km2, 74,600 km2 and 133,000 km2, respectively. The Athabasca River Basin
includes the McLeod, Pembina and Clearwater rivers (Government of Alberta, 2014c).

2.4.1 Scope of Study Geographic Extent

Golder/IBI Group was retained to develop a plan for the identified risk areas within the Athabasca River
Basin. The focus of the study was to determine mitigation measures to reduce existing and potential future
risks of damages arising from flood events in the Athabasca River Basin. The project provided water
management recommendations, including (a) estimated costs associated with implementation of the
proposed flood mitigation projects, (b) timelines and conceptual scope of work for the projects, and (c)
benefit/cost analyses associated with the proposed mitigation projects.

2.4.2 Development Options Considered

Based on examining the existing water flood management infrastructure, project previously proposed but
not implemented as well as the lessons learned from the 2013 floods, Golder proposed numerous structural
flood mitigation options mainly for three communities, Fort McMurray, Slave Lake and White Court
(Golder, 2014 Appendices E, F and G).

2.4.3 Evaluation of the Development Option


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Potential projects were prioritized using five major socio-economic criteria guided by the RMFs seven key
guidelines provided by the SAFRTF, economic efficiency, disaster prevention, environmental impact,
implementation and incidental benefits with an emphasis on drought mitigation (Golder, 2014 Appendix
A).

2.4.4 Economic Appraisal of the Potential Flood Mitigation Project for Fort McMurray

Cost estimates for the five structural flood mitigation options considered for Fort McMurray are presented
in Table 5 (Golder, 2014 Appendix E).

Table 5. Cost estimate of structural mitigation, Fort Murray adapted from Golder (2014 Appendix E).
Option Description Total Cost Project Annual Operationand
No. Life O&M as % Maintenance
(Years) of Capital (Annual Cost
Cost (2014)
Dyke Options for Added Value
1 a Add 1.0 m Freeboard to Dyke System for Lower Town Site
$12,631,831 50 0.005 $45,209
(above 100 year Ice Jam Level)
1 b-1 - Add 1.0 m Freeboard to Saline Creek Parkway (Protect
1 $5,551,369 50 0.005 $19,066
Waterways only)
1 b-2 - Add 1.0 m Freeboard to Saline Creek Parkway and Ptarmigan
$10,651,345 50 0.005 $42,677
Trailer Park Dyke (Protect Waterways and Trailer Park)
1c - McDonald Island Dyke (Protect new Recreational Complex) $6,309,916 50 0.005 $19,953
1d - Hanging tone Dyke (upstream of Memorial Drive) $869,495 50 0.005 $1,711
2 Ice Control Structure On The Athabasca River $310,878,000 75 0.01 $2,878,500
3 Medium Head Crooked Rapids Dam On the Athabasca River $2,816,370,000 75 0.01 $26,077,500
4 High Head Crooked Rapids Dam On the Athabasca River $9,131,400,000 75 0.01 $84,550,000
5 Clearwater Dam And Gates $419,634,000 75 0.01 $3,885,500

2.4.5 Economic Appraisal of the Potential Flood Mitigation Project for Slave Lake

Table 6 shows cost estimates for the four structural options considered for Slave Lake.

Table 6. Cost estimate of structural flood mitigation options for Slave Lake adapted from Golder (2014 Apendix F).
Option Description Design Criteria Capacity with Capacity Return Total Cost
1.0m of Dyke without Period
Freeboard Freeboard without
Freeboard
1 Major Dyke 1:100 year and 1. 0m freeboard 375 m3/s 520 m3/s 1:250 year $27,718,085
Improvements
2 Moody Creek Diversion 1:100 year and 1. 0m freeboard 253 m3/s 600 m3/s 1:350 year $26,906,830
3 Moody Creek Diversion 1:100 year and 1. 0m freeboard 375 m3/s 740 m3/s 1:590 year $31,615,544
+Minor Dykes
4 Sawridge Creek Dam 1:500 year and 1.0m freeboard - 214 m3/s 1:500 year $331,547,593

2.4.6 Economic Appraisal of the Potential Flood Mitigation Project for Whitecourt

Table 7 lists cost estimates for the structural options considered for Whitecourt.

Table 7. Cost estimate of structural flood mitigation options for Whitecour adapted from Golder (2014 Apendix G).
Capacity Capacity Return Period
Option Description Reach Design Criteria with without without Total Cost
1.0m Freeboard Freeboard
Dyke Historic ice jam +
1 McLeod River 4,095 m3/s 4,650 m3/s 1:680 $14,457,971
Construction 1.0m freeboard
11

Athabasca U/S of Historic ice jam +


4,631 m3/s 6,000 m3/s 1:3,500
McLeod River 1.0m freeboard
Athabasca D/S of 100-yr + 1.0m
5,250 m3/s 7,800 m3/s 1:490
McLeod River freeboard
River bank /no
McLeod River n/a 1,800 m3/s 1:600
freeboard
McLeod Athabasca U/S of River bank /no
2 n/a 2,400 m3/s 1:30 $353,975,000
River Dam McLeod River freeboard
Athabasca D/S of River bank /no
n/a 5,500 m3/s 1:130
McLeod River freeboard
2.4.7 Conclusion

Flood risks in the Athabaska River Basin are associated with a combination of ice jam events and open
water flooding. Golder was of the view that the flood hazards for the three communities, Fort McMurray,
Slave Lake and Whitecourt, could only be lowered effectively and efficiently by using the proposed
structural flood mitigation option. The study found that because, for obvious practical reasons, these
communities could not be moved out of flood ways they could not be save from flood hazards using any
non-structural measures considered. However, those non-structural measures could be beneficial for new
developments.

3 SELECTION OF PROPOSED FLOOD MITIGATION PROJECT ON THE ELBOW RIVER

Based on the findings of the four engineering studies as summarized above, the GoA identified three
options of potential major flood mitigation infrastructure projects for the Elbow River, Springbank
Off-stream Reservoir (SRI), McLean Creek dam (MC1) and Glenmore Reservoir Diversion (GRD), for
reducing the flood risk to the City of Calgary against a 2013-level flood. The GoA also decided to further
study the economic and environmental viability of these projects.

The proposed MC1 dam (Figure 1) is an on-stream dam which would be located on the Elbow River at
McLean Creek, approximately 11 kilometres upstream of Bragg Creek. The proposed land site is
undeveloped Crown land with robust natural ecosystems. As per concept, the dam would provide protection
to the City of Calgary against a 2013-level flood when combined with the existing flood storage capacity of
the Glenmore Reservoir (Figure 2). The dam would also provide protection to the surrounding communities
of Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows.

Figure 1. Elbow River Dam at McLean Creek (MC1) reservoir area layout adapted from AMEC (2014b).
12

Figure 2. Glenmore Reservoir Diversion.

The SR1 reservoir (Figure 3) was also proposed to protect Calgary from a 2013-level flood event by
diverting extreme flood flow from the Elbow River into an off-stream storage reservoir where it would be
temporarily contained and later released back into the river after the flood peak has passed. The effect is to
"shave the peak" by storing a portion of the flood flow volume and then releasing it over a longer period of
time than would otherwise occur.

Figure 3. Springbank off-stream storage project (SR1) diversion system and reservoir area layout AMEC (2014b).

3.1 Economic Analysis of the Selected Projects

The economic assessment of the three projects was conducted by the IBI Group. A benefit/cost analysis
compared project benefits in terms of damage averted if built to project costs including capital and
operating costs. Damage was assessed under two cases: a higher "worst case" condition; and a lower or
"anticipated case" condition.

The high damage scenario includes commercial indirect damages, Stampede indirect damages, and
infrastructure damages, especially at higher flood frequencies. 'Worst case" includes: commercial indirect
damages (productivity loss immediately following the 2013 flood), Stampede indirect damages (the
complete loss of the 10 day annual Calgary Exhibition and Stampede revenues), and infrastructure damages
(includes City of Calgary's municipal infrastructure recovery list and costs for mitigation projects that were
implemented to prevent or ameliorate future damages). The low damage scenario uses reduced commercial
indirect, Stampede indirect, and infrastructure damages. "Anticipated case" includes: post-flood economic
recovery and geographic substitution of economic activity (more typical commercial indirect damage
factor), a more typical potential revenue loss during the non-Stampede timeframe, and more typical
percentage of other direct damages (residential and commercial).Each of the two cases was further analysed
under two scenarios, 1:100 year level of protection and 1:200 year level of protection. The results of the
economic analysis are given in Tables 8 and 9.
13

Table 8. Benefit/Cost ratio for the proposed major flood mitigation infrastructures projects on the Elbow River under the
high damage and low damage scenarios for 1:100 and 1:200 year levels of protection of the City of Calgary.
Mitigation Project Options High Damage Scenario Low Damage Scenario
1:100 Year 1:200 Year 1:100 Year 1:200 Year
Level of Level of Level of Level of
Protection Protection Protection Protection
Springbank off stream reservoir (SR1) 1.87 2.07 1.32 1.32
McLean Creek dry dam (MC1) 1.43 1.65 1.01 1.05
Glenmore reservoir (Calgary Tunnel) 1.21 1.20 0.81 0.83
14

Table 9. Cost comparison of the proposed major flood mitigation infrastructures projects on the Elbow River.
Springbank Glenmore
McLean Creek
Description off- stream reservoir (Calgary
dry dam (MC1)
reservoir (SR1) Tunnel)
Estimated construction cost for
$215 Million $295 Million $394 Million
2013 protection level
Benefit/Cost ratio 1:200
"High Damage" scenario (See
2.07 1.65 1.20
Note 1)
"Low Damage" scenario (See
1.32 1.05 0.83
Note 2)
Land required Private grazing land Pristine Crown land City of Calgary
Calgary
Protects Calgary Bragg Creek Calgary
Redwood Meadows
Dam wall height / tunnel length 24 metres 50 metres 4.2 kilometres
Unknown and subject to
Currently being Unknown
known environmental
revised by Alberta Construction
concerns Design,
Transportation. estimated at 34
Based on being months
Environmental and
unable to access
construction estimated to be
land, the revised The duration of
Current schedule approximately six year
schedule indicates design,
duration after approval to
construction procurement and
proceed is received and
completion 2018, regulatory
secured funding. Various
operational 2019. approvals is not
other variables will affect the
This is based on identified - could
estimated duration of the total
June land access take 3-5 years.
project
Additional costs (very high level estimates)
Land acquisition $40 million n/a n/a
Parks infrastructure replacement &
n/a $45 million n/a
relocation
Bragg Creek protection $6.1 million n/a $6.1 million
Annual operating/maintenance costs $1.8 million $1.8 million $2.0 million
Environmental mitigation to be determined to be determined $5.9 million
included in
included in construction $98.4 million
construction
Professional services
estimated (26.6
estimate (39.9 million) $0.1 million
million)
Right of Way n/a n/a
Total of estimated costs $273 million $342 million $507 million

As is evident from Table 8, the Glenmore Reservoir Diversion (GRD) achieved a positive benefit/cost ratio
in only two of the four scenarios and ranked third behind the other two mitigation projects. Another major
concern highlighted in the study regarding the GRD related to the tunnelling technology potentially
required to accomplish the project. It was indicated that because this technology was untested in Alberta
context compared to the alternative storage solutions, the diversion project also appeared to have the
highest level of uncertainty relative to costs. The study noted that a recent example of cost escalations of
greater than two times the original estimate associated with the City of Calgary airport runway tunnel was a
good example of the latter concern. Based on this analysis, the GRD project was dropped from further
consideration and assessments.

Table 8 and Table 9 also show that the MC1 Flood Storage project achieved a positive benefit/cost ratio in
all four scenarios but ranked second behind the SR1 project. A comparison of estimated costs for the three
proposed projects is also shown in Table 9. The total estimated cost ($273 million) was the lowest for the
SR1 project compared to MC1 ($342 million) and GRD ($507 million) projects.
15

3.2 Environmental Assessment for the Selected Projects

While an environmental overview on the MC1 dam concept was performed by AMEC, an environmental
impact assessment of the SR1 project is currently underway by STANTEC. However, because MC1 project
is an on-stream dam concept, its installation can leave not only a large environmental footprint, it could also
pose substantial mid-construction and operational risks which may not result from construction of the
off-stream reservoirs, such as SR1 reservoir.

Being located directly on the river with the proposed land site on undeveloped Crown land, construction of
the MC1 dam could substantially disrupt the pristine and robust natural ecosystems of the Crown land on
which the proposed site is located, including plants and wildlife, such as sensitive species including the
cougar, lynx, pygmy, great grey and barred owls. It can impact river flows, and therefore aquatic
ecosystems, fish species listed at risk. This project would be a barrier for fish and other aquatic species.
There would also be changes to downstream water quality which would require mitigation.

In addition to the substantial environmental impacts on ecosystem as indicated above, installation of the
MC1 dam could also suffer from numerous prior-, mid-, and post construction constraints that would
substantially reduce its economic viability. For example, provincially designated key wildlife and
biodiversity zones located along the Elbow River impose timing and construction constraints for almost
half the year, which can result in extended construction periods with increasing costs. Long construction
period would also be required because in-stream work can only be completed at certain times of the year.
Construction of MC1 dam would also require construction of temporary structures (diversion, spillway,
etc.) prior to construction of permanent structure, as the river flow will need to be maintained at all times.
Uncertainty about regulatory implications due to on-stream nature, disruption of wildlife and potential
mitigation requirements could impact project schedule, project design and costs. Due to a shorter
construction season and therefore a longer construction period for an on-stream project, pursuing the MC1
option would leave residents along the Elbow River unprotected from potential flooding for a longer period
of time than if an off-stream option is undertaken. Furthermore, compared to an off-stream dam, on-stream
dam such as MC1 dam presents a higher risk of failure and subsequent flooding of downstream
communities, if a significant rainfall event occurs during construction.

4 CLOSURE

Based on the findings of the four engineering studies as summarized above, the GoA identified three major
flood mitigation infrastructure projects for the Elbow River, Springbank Off-stream Reservoir (SRI),
McLean Creek dam (MC1) and Glenmore Reservoir Diversion (GRD), as potential options for reducing the
flood risk to the City of Calgary against a 2013-level flood. The GoA also decided to further study the
economic and environmental viability of these projects. The economic assessment of the three projects was
conducted by the IBI Group. The economic and environmental comparison for these three projects indicates
that the SR1 project provides the best benefit/cost ratio when compared to the other two projects and is the
most economic and environmentally viable option among the three projects considered.

With a design storage capacity of 70,200 dam3, the SR1 reservoir will, in combination with the flood
storage capacity of the Glenmore reservoir, provide mitigation against 2013 magnitude flood flows. The
current storage of the Glenmore Reservoir available for flood mitigation is 10,000 dam3. However, an
upgrade to the existing facility is planned for providing a potential flood storage capacity of 15,000 dam3.

The current project schedule for the SR1 reservoir indicates a construction completion in 2018 and dam
operations commencing in 2019. The project schedule is being updated to reflect the actual status of
16

activities, planned activities and critical tasks. The updated project schedule will identify project milestones
and revised completion dates.

Although, every effort has been made in this manuscript to present an accurate and succinct overview of the
four studies, in no-way it can substitute or provide an alternate to the full reports from those studies.
Therefore, the readers are advised to consult the full study reports available at the GoA website:
http://www.alberta.ca/flood-mitigation-studies.cfm, for further details.

5 REFERENCES

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