Local governments and developers are working to ensure local streams remain vital.
Calgary is a river city.
It always has been. The confluence of the Elbow and Bow is the heart of traditional Blackfoot territory. In 1875, the North West Mounted Police built a fort on the site that served as the foundation of the city.
But Calgary is also a place of many watersheds. As The City puts it, “No matter where you live in the city, you are in a watershed.” That fact makes stormwater a big issue. Calgary sits in the Bow River watershed, but also within 6 sub-watersheds. These include Fish Creek, Nose Creek, Pine Creek and the Shepard Wetland.
These are all tributaries of the Bow and their health is important to the health of the river. That means The City works to ensure the vitality of the streams. It also means that, as the rivers flow, they run into regional issues.
The members of the Nose Creek Watershed Partnership reflects the regional nature of the task. The partners include the City of Calgary, Rocky View County, the City of Airdrie, the Calgary Airport Authority, the Town of Crossfield and the Bow River Basin Council. They all must work together to keep the creek healthy.
Within Calgary, there are about 137 stormwater outfalls that flow into the Nose Creek. City council recently discussed updating the management plan for the creek. As the CBC reported, council was told that the health of the creek was rated as fair, but that it ranked poorly on some indicators.
This attention to Nose Creek, is just one aspect of The City’s attention to stormwater. Its Riparian Action Plan acknowledges that stormwater travels overland as well as in stream courses. Part of the plan deals with ephemeral streams. These are watercourses that are often dry, but which carry water at times of high precipitation or snowmelt. The City’s approach was honoured with an award from the Canadian Institute of Planners earlier this year.
In Calgary, developers also share these concerns. Stormwater has long been a big consideration in new communities. This has led to a considerable expertise. As the Calgary Herald recently reported, cutting-edge techniques are at work in several new communities, including Livingston, Artesia and Harmony.
These techniques range from man-made lakes and wetlands that filter water to advanced treatment plants. They provide natural amenities for residents and prove that, like stormwater itself, solutions to this pressing issue will come from several sources.