The third and final open house to view possible dam/reservoir projects to manage peak flows of the Bow River goes tonight, Oct. 15, at the RockPointe Church, 255024 Lochend Rd., 11 km east of Cochrane.

All three scenarios will have a major impact upon people, private property, parks, and major infrastructure, including the CP mainline. None of the projects will be cheap, either. While no firm prices have been attached to any of the projects, officials say all will likely be in the $1 billion range.  

After reviewing 15 scenarios, the Bow River Working Group narrowed the list to three possible solutions to reduce the Bow River's peak flow rate to 1,200 cubic metres per second (cusecs). Further mitigation efforts within the City of Calgary would reduce it to 700 cusecs.

Those solutions include new dam/reservoirs on the Stoney Nakoda Nation or at the east end of the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. The third option is to decommission the existing TransAlta Ghost dam and build a new one 2.5 km downstream, then expand the size of its existing reservoir. 

Dam Meeting Answering QuestionsKen Kress, left, of Wood, was among those answering questions during the open houses.

About 240 people gained insight on the three options during the first two open houses, one of which was held at the Cochrane RancheHouse.

AEP communications advisory Jason Penner says the feedback received has varied, but there's been positive feedback on how the engagement is being handled.

"We've received comments on all kinds of things," says Penner. "We've had questions about timelines, and project footprints. One of the things that we are hearing is that people are quite happy with the information being presented."

Although none of the open houses are being held in the summer village of Ghost Lake or within the Stoney Nakoda Nation, Penner says property owners directed impacted by the project or on its perimeter were invited to attend the open houses. Each also received information packages in advance. 

What has helped to improve the dialogue on this project is the involvement of major stakeholders from the start as members of the Bow River Working Group, says Penner.

"We had municipalities involved, as well as First Nations, industries, irrigation districts, watershed planning, and advisory councils and a few stewardship groups. It was a pretty wide group of stakeholders doing the initial bit of work that identified the three options that we're now assessing."

Should the Morley proposal advance to the feasibility study stage, he says it would trigger a more formal consultation with the First Nation.

"We are looking to engage with them in the way they want to be engaged," he says.

The East Glenbow project would have the largest impact on private/public landowners. Already, some of those potentially impacted have been voicing opposition to the project, including the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation.

Penner says it's too early to determine the full impact of any of these projects.

"It's too early to make a judgment on some of that because these are just conceptual designs," he explains. "So even some of the exact proposed locations could change slightly if we go forward with feasibility studies. What you could see is a footprint or project that looks a little bit different than what was presented during the conceptual stage."

In the spring, the government is expected to decide whether any of the proposed concepts will go to the feasibility stage.

Potential flood and drought storage projects on the Bow River were identified in the working group's May 2017 report. AEP commissioned Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions to study the reservoir options.

While this is the final open house, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) will continue to receive feedback until the winter of 2020.

The open house runs from 4 to 8 p.m.