The Bow River Reservoir Options – July 2024 Update

The Bow River Reservoir Options – July 2024 Update

The following news release was received from Alberta Environment & Protected Areas today. Some important decisions have been made to move the project forward as quickly as possible while recognizing the importance of public engagement in the future of the project development.

The Morley Reservoir Option will not be advanced at this time leaving the Relocated Ghost Dam and Glenbow East Reservoir option still under consideration for flood relief to the City of Calgary and drought relief for downstream agricultural needs. The three original reservoir options have received considerable criticism in recent years given that flood mitigation infrastructure enhancement projects in Calgary, combined with possible optimizing water storage capacity of existing reservoirs, and improved water management policy upstream of Calgary could alleviate most of the flood and drought risk. Therefore, the Alberta Government’s decision to look at alternatives to the two remaining reservoir storage options is appropriate.

July 2024 Update: The Bow River Reservoir Options

Phase 2: Feasibility Study

Thank you for your continued interest in the Bow River Reservoir Options (BRRO) initiative. As part of our commitment to provide regular updates on the initiative, we would like to share information on the recent engagement activities and our work assessing alternatives to a dam and reservoir.

Given the need to move in a timely manner to prevent floods and mitigate drought along the Bow River, Environment and Protected Areas will not advance the Morley option any further at this time. The study continues to assess technical feasibility, while carefully considering a variety of social, environmental, cultural, traditional land use, engineering, and economic elements for the remaining Relocated Ghost Dam and Glenbow East Options. Accordingly, recent engagement efforts focused on these two options.

The current stage of the initiative is indicated in the graphic below. For more details on the BRRO initiative, including feasibility study updates and engagement opportunities, please visit:

The Bow River Reservoir Options Study Team



The Bow River Reservoir Options initiative will now focus on two reservoir options in the Bow River basin, upstream of Calgary:

  • Relocated Ghost Dam: An expansion of the existing Ghost Reservoir west of Cochrane
  • Glenbow East: A new reservoir between Cochrane and the Bearspaw Dam at the western edge of Calgary

In addition, alternatives to the two remaining reservoir option are now being considered.

July 2024 Update: The Bow River Reservoir Options

The Alberta government is looking at alternatives, what does that mean? 

Although the BRRO is exploring a potential new reservoir on the Bow River upstream of Calgary for water management flexibility, much work has gone into assessing if there is something else, an alternative, that could be done that would provide equivalent flood mitigation and drought protection. The Alberta government is preparing a report that synthesizes the assessments of key alternatives, documenting in one place their benefits, risks and other important considerations. This will help inform a decision on whether to proceed with one of the reservoir options to Phase 3: Engineering and Regulatory Approval Process.

What alternatives are included?

Many alternatives were assessed by the Bow River Working Group, as described in their May 2017 report, Advice to Government on Water Management in the Bow River Basin. The BRRO was initiated as a result of the Alberta government accepting a recommendation from this report.

Other alternatives were assessed during the Phase 1: Conceptual Assessment as documented in the final report, identified as part of a jurisdictional review conducted by the BRRO study team in 2023 or recommended to the Alberta government during BRRO engagement.