Room for the River: Pilot in the Red Deer River Basin


In the 18 months since the 2013 floods occurred in Alberta, a wide range of mitigation options for the Bow River Basin have been identified, studied, and implemented by the Government of Alberta (GoA), municipalities, non-government organizations, and others.

With a number of options still under consideration, the GoA announced in the fall of 2014 that it wanted to look more closely at the approach taken by the Netherlands to manage flooding in the Rhine River branches, called the Room for the River program. A pilot project was undertaken in the Bow Basin to consider the Dutch program and measures and the extent to which they could be adapted and applied here to reduce vulnerability of people and infrastructure and improve the overall environmental quality of the Bow and Elbow rivers.

This report was submitted to GoA on December 19th, 2014 for their review and consideration. It includes an overview of the pilot and the resulting advice to GoA. Many organizations and individuals contributed to this pilot. In this continuing spirit of collaboration, the report is being broadly shared and further comments are welcomed.

The Room for the River Project is being successfully applied to the Bow River Basin and is now leveraging that success for the benefit of the Red Deer River Basin. On May 8, please join the project organizers at the Raddison Hotel (former Holiday Inn 67th St location) for a working session from 1pm to 4pm facilitated by Alberta WaterSMART on behalf of ESRD's Resilience and Mitigation Branch. Check out the full event details and registration HERE.

Project Objective:

To learn from the Dutch Room for the River experience to identify and consider potential flood mitigation options in the Red Deer River Basin and reduce vulnerability of people and infrastructure along with improving the overall environmental quality of the river.


• Build on what has already been identified, studied and implemented in the basin
• Work with the water managers, watershed managers, and experts that know the river the best
• Apply a systematic, informed framework and process that could be replicated in other basins
• Build on the work done and the lessons learned in the Bow RftR Pilot

Advice to the Government of Alberta:

1. Scan of specific, actionable opportunities to further implement Room for the River measures along the Red Deer river, including select tributaries, from headwaters to downstream of Drumheller.
2. Recognition of what has already been done along the Red Deer river to create Room for the River.
3. Identification of the most promising opportunities.
4. Suggestions on potential broader program, process and engagement.

An elevated understanding amongst the water community in the Red Deer Basin of the Room for the River program, measures and associated opportunities in Alberta.
A tested framework and process for applying Room for the River to all watersheds in Alberta.

For more information pleae contact Alberta WaterSMART at 403-210-5278


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