It’s safe to say that there won’t be a major flood event this year. It’s also pretty likely that the new NDP government will not rush to build any dams in the Elbow River watershed soon either. The prudent thing to do would be a thorough environmental and social impact study to determine the best course of action.

The snowpack in the mountains is about 85% of the average for this time of year and far below the historical maximum. So there isn’t enough snow in the mountains to cause a flood. Also the amount of water flowing in the Elbow River at Bragg Creek is far below average. Of course it is always possible that rains of biblical proportion could fall in June. That is pretty much what happened in 2013, but then there were significant amounts of snow in the mountains and water flowing in the river.

So the heat is off to build flood mitigation projects. In fact, drought may be more of a problem. I heard an expert, recently, say that dry dams will have no benefit in the event of a drought. He implied that we need a better solution – a water management plan that will address both floods and drought.

Snowpack measurement at the Little Elbow Summit monitoring station

 

May 2015

May 2014

Historical
Minimum/Year

Historical
Maximum/Year

Historical
Average

% of Avg

Snow Depth

103

154

71/1992

192/1991

124

83

Snow Water Equivalent

331

461

206/1992

742/1991

381

87

Current and Historical graph of the snowpack at Little Elbow Summit

River Flow in the Elbow River at the Bragg Creek Monitoring Station

Check the current snow pack and river flow here: http://www.environment.alberta.ca/apps/basins/default.aspx