Bow River Reservoir Options – A Rethink is Needed


The original Bow Basin Water Management Objectives were limited to water management to reduce the risk of flooding to the City of Calgary and ease drought concerns in Alberta irrigation districts. Although it is understood that environmental concerns were asked to be included in the objective, little to no consideration was given to this area of concern. An additional dam on the Bow River does little to offset the risk of flooding to the City of Calgary without modifications to water management policy during the spring and early summer months.

It has become clear the modified water management protocol that now exists for Ghost Reservoir and other reservoirs upstream have a greater impact on flood protection than a new or upgraded dam upstream of Calgary. The current hydropeaking power generation plants within the Bow Basin are almost redundant in the current day power generation capacity within Alberta, representing less than 5% of Alberta’s power generation capacity. Although not considered when the hydroelectric dams were built, it is now well established that a sizable degradation to riparian and fish habitat takes place. Therefore the justification for a new dam is outweighed by the negative impact on the environment.

With this background, why has decommissioning of peak hydropower generation not been considered as an alternative to new dam construction. The existing reservoirs could meet water storage needs and allow “run-of-the-river” power generation where deemed appropriate.

The Bow River Reservoir Options (BRRO) are detailed in the attached video. The decision as to what options are considered will have an impact on recreational river use, the environment, and the sport fishery for decades to come. Your input in the feasibility assessment is critical to make sure all options are on the table for discussion.


Calgary River Users’ Alliance