TransAlta agrees to flood protection deal with Alberta government

Ghost Lake reservoir west of Cochrane, June 2, 2015. Dani Lantela / Global News

CALGARY – The Alberta government and power producer TransAlta have agreed to alter water levels at four hydroelectric sites west of Calgary to protect against floods and drought.

The province is to pay the company $27.5 million over five years as compensation for the reduced power-generating ability at the plants.

The deal will allow the province to make changes at the Ghost Reservoir, along the Bow River, between May 16 and July 7 each year to prevent flooding in the Calgary area.

“Both flood and drought are serious concerns in southern Alberta,” Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips said in a news release. “This agreement provides more storage capacity and greater flexibility to help protect communities along the Bow River from the potentially devastating effects of flood and drought, and the uncertainties of a changing climate.”

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The Bow was one of the southern Alberta rivers that overflowed in 2013 and swamped much of downtown Calgary in one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history.

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“This is a valuable agreement that will help protect Calgarians who live and work along the Bow River,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in a news release. “Collaborative management of the Ghost Reservoir is a key part of a suite of flood mitigation projects required along the Bow River, and I’m pleased we’re moving forward today. This is not only an important investment in the protection of people and the environment, it’s an investment in the resilience of our economy through the protection of downtown Calgary.”

TransAlta (TSX:TA) says the deal is similar to arrangements in 2014 and 2015, which lowered water levels at the Ghost Reservoir to provide storage during high runoff.

The deal also includes changes at three reservoirs in Kananaskis Country to help boost flows on the Bow River during dry periods or to provide extra floodwater storage.

With files from Global News.


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