Province continues work on flood hazard studies
Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 06:00 am
Updates were released last month on the Alberta Flood Hazard Identification Program, including updates on the flood hazard studies currently underway on the Upper Bow River and the Elbow River, both of which flow through Rocky View County (RVC).
“These studies are important tools to identify the hazards posed by our rivers,” said Jason Penner, public affairs officer with Alberta Environment and Parks. “This was an update released to let our municipal stakeholders know where we’re at with the process, which does require a great deal of modelling and assessment work before we can get to the point where we can start putting out our deliverables.”
The goal of the project is to create new flood hazard maps, including 13 different flood inundation maps. According to Penner, these new maps will provide a visual representation of what various areas would look like under 13 unique flood scenarios – ranging from a one in two year flood to a one in 1,000 year flood.
“These maps will be quite useful for future development planning and for emergency planning as well,” Penner said. “If you’re a municipality trying to navigate your way through an emergency, this will help you see which areas are at risk – based on a level of river flow that is closer to what you’re actually going to see at that time.”
According to Penner, these maps will cover a broader section of river than what has been included in previous mapping projects. Over the past 30 years, the province has produced maps covering approximately 1,100 kilometres of river – and Penner said this project alone will map more than 550 kilometres – starting at the gates of Banff National Park and stretching to Calgary.
“What has typically been done prior to this is much smaller chunks of river – you might see a flood hazard study that covers the area of the river that runs through a town, and maybe a bit upstream and downstream,” Penner said.
“But they would miss the significant chunks that run through rural areas or areas of minimal development. For residents of RVC, that’s probably quite important – and helps the county guide future development, as well.”
Penner said the current timeline will see technical work completed by the end of the year. From there, the province will offer engagement opportunities to present the project to its municipal partners before proceeding to finalize the products.
“The 2013 flood event was really not that long ago, and I think it’s still something that is seasonally top of mind for a lot of people in southern Alberta,” Penner said. “In the spring, people tend to turn their attention to the risks posed by rivers – when rivers run the highest. That’s when we get a lot of questions from municipal partners and residents living in the areas close to rivers about what the flood risk is.”
For more information about the studies, visit floodhazard.alberta.ca.