News / Calgary

Tsuut'ina says no to Springbank Dry Dam project

The proposed 70 million cubic metre holding area is one of the primary flood mitigation projects stemming from the historic 2013 southern Alberta floods

The Springbank Off-Stream reservoir is proposed to help mitigate the potential for massive downstream flooding on the Elbow River like what happened in 2013.

Screenshot of Alberta government Springbank Dry Dam

The Springbank Off-Stream reservoir is proposed to help mitigate the potential for massive downstream flooding on the Elbow River like what happened in 2013.

The results of an environmental impact study could open up further dialogue on the Springbank Dry Dam project, but for now the province is staying the course, Alberta’s infrastructure minister said.

On Wednesday Tsuut'ina Nation officials said they’ll oppose the construction of the Springbank Dry Dam, due to concerns over the effect on their land and the Alberta NDP not getting their consent.

According to a statement issued on behalf of Tsuut'ina Chief Lee Crowchild, they have learned from third party sources that the construction of a dry reservoir that would hold diverted water from the Elbow River in the case of a major flood, is "likely to have a direct negative impact on Tsuut'ina, especially to treaty protected water."

The proposed location of the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir, according to the Alberta government, is 15 kilometres west of Calgary near Springbank Road, north of the Elbow River and east of Highway 22.

It's designed with a diversion channel from the Elbow River to a reservoir with a capacity of 70.2 million cubic metres. When peak floodwaters have passed, the water is sent back to the Elbow in a controlled release.

It's one of the primary flood mitigation measures planned after the 2013 southern Alberta flooding.

"It is with some frustration that I must report that Tsuut'ina has not been consulted on the dry dam," the statement from Crowchild read.

Alberta Infrastructure minister, Brian Mason said the Nation, on the southwest border of Calgary, has been a part of ongoing consultations, but said a recent meeting in Springbank demonstrated the Tsuut’ina Nation’s opposition.

“From that point, I think we suspected they were going to oppose it,” Mason told Metro.

Tsuut’ina officials said they’d prefer to throw their support behind a reservoir option at McLean Creek, but Mason said independent assessments have shown  the Springbank Dry Dam is a superior option.

Tsuut’ina spokesman Kevin Littlelight reiterated their concerns over the environmental impact on their treaty lands, but said it ultimately comes down to one thing.

"It's not as much consultation as it is consent," he said.

"To have such a massive project right outside our doorstep - that really does affect our river. It's disheartening that other governments would push forward without really sitting down with us a looking at a better option that works for everybody.

The Tsuut'ina Nation is contracting experts to review the overall impact the Springbank Dry Dam could have, and are exploring legal options to "force more thorough federal and provincial environmental assessments.

Minister Mason said the results of a year-long environmental study are to be released in June and he said that be the launch point for more dialogue – with the intention of getting Tsuut’ina’s consent.

“We’re prepared to work hard to get it,” Mason said.

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