News / Calgary

Cost to protect Calgary Zoo from future flooding jumps to $25M 

Calgary’s riverside zoo needs more than a berm to ward off future inundations, according to a new report that opens the door for mitigation costs to skyrocket.

City council was advised in November 2013 to spend $11-millon to shore up St. George's Island from overland flooding, which was the main cause of damage during the city’s historic deluge.

But engineers now suggest a water pumping system is also needed around the perimeter to protect against rising groundwater, too.

The project’s new estimate cost rings in at $25-million, should city councillors opt for the added flood protection.

In the event of high-rising water, hydrologist Masaki Hayashi says constructing a berm forms what’s known as a “hydraulic gradient.”

If the river water doesn’t spill over the embankment, he explained, it gets pushed into the ground beneath the island

“You’re basically pushing water from one end of the straw and it will have to come out at the other end of the straw,” said Hayashi, a University of Calgary professor.

It’s unclear in the report exactly where the water would be pumped, with administrators only recommending city councillors release $1.2-millon for a detailed design study. An alternative sees the city pony up the entire project cost now and ask the provincial government to cover the tab later under its flood aid program.

The report is slated for debate at City Hill on April 1.

Photo Gallery

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

    The Calgary Zoo is seen from the air in Calgary, Alta. on July 11, 2013.

  • Six-and-a-half-year-old hippo Lobi explores the African Savannah building during flooding on Sunday, June 23, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-Calgary Zoo

  • Metro file photo

    Some of aftermath of June's flooding is seen at the Calgary Zoo during a tour given to media a few days after the water roared into the island site.

  • Candice Ward / For Metro

    Dr. Jake Veasey, Director of Animal Care Conservation and Research gives a tour of the Calgary Zoo to show the devastation and tell the heroic stories of animal rescue during the June floods.

  • Candice Ward / For Metro

    CALGARY, AB Clean up at the Calgary Zoo has begun as media are allowed in for a tour of the world-class facility, Monday, that was hit hard during the flood.

  • Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

    Elephants leave tracks in mud left behind by flooding as clean-up crews work to clean-up the Calgary Zoo in June.

  • Candice Ward / For Metro

    CALGARY, AB Clean up at the Calgary Zoo has begun as media are allowed in for a tour of the world-class facility, Monday, that was hit hard during the flood.

  • Clean-up crews work at the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Heavy rains caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuations across Southern Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

  • Candice Ward / For Metro

    CALGARY, AB Clean up at the Calgary Zoo has begun as media are allowed in for a tour of the world-class facility, Monday, that was hit hard during the flood.

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

    Visitors explore the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, July 31, 2013, after it re-opened a section following being closed since the devastating flood in June. The initial opening will be the 60-acre northern section including the Penguin Plunge, Canadian Wilds and the Prehistoric Park.

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

    A mother penguin sits on her nest as her chick yawns at the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, July 31, 2013, after it re-opened a section following being closed since the devastating flood in June. The initial opening will be the 60-acre northern section including the Penguin Plunge, Canadian Wilds and the Prehistoric Park.

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

    Visitors explore the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, July 31, 2013, after it re-opened a section following being closed since the devastating flood in June. The initial opening will be the 60-acre northern section including the Penguin Plunge, Canadian Wilds and the Prehistoric Park.

A spokesperson for the Calgary Zoo said no one from the animal park was available for an interview.

However, Larissa Mark conveyed a sense of urgency in an email.

“We are hopeful that the city will finalize its plans this spring so construction of flood preventative measures can begin ASAP,” Mark wrote.

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