Glenmore Dam ready to face spring floods, despite construction

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Glenmore Dam ready to face spring floods, despite construction

The head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency says despite ongoing construction, the Glenmore Dam is still ready to protect downstream communities against spring flooding.

The dam, which was built in the 1930s, is undergoing an $82-million facelift that is set to be complete in spring 2020.

The deck on top of the structure is being replaced and new steel gates are being added to boost the capacity of the reservoir, according to city officials.

In 2013, water flowed over the top of the dam when much of Calgary flooded.

CEMA chief Tom Sampson said the water levels on the reservoir have been lowered by 0.8 metres while the work takes place.

"The dam's capacity will not be changed from 2013. The dam's capacity to hold water, the Glenmore Reservoir's capacity, will be improved by 0.8 of a metre, so it gives you a little bit more to hold back," he said.

"The problem that we had in 2013 was a very, very sharp rain fall of a very high volume and it brought water flows down that we simply could not handle.

"So that situation wouldn't change but the Glenmore Dam is in no worse shape. We're just in a little better shape from the reservoir perspective because it's a little bit lower."

'No increased risk'

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he's noticed water has been a bit high along the Elbow River, but he's been reassured the dam is sound while construction takes place.

"There is no increased risk. The dam works well. It will continue to work as well as it has. There's no problems with cresting but the construction will protect us even more when it's done," he said.

He said he's happy to see that snow from the city has largely made its way through reservoirs, meaning Calgary has yet to face significant overland flooding like other communities around the province are currently facing.

"The thing about Calgary, is we're very close to the headwaters. So we don't get a lot of warning if there's a sudden severe melt or if there's rain or snow," he said.

Nenshi said the city continues to pressure the province to ensure upstream flood mitigation work goes ahead to protect local communities from future floods. 

"Tons has been done, but tons more needs to be done," Nenshi said.

Sampson said those mitigation projects are vital, but won't happen overnight.

"That's a big project and it's going to take some time."

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