Image: Elbow River Dam Environmental Impact Assessment

Sustainability2 min read

Elbow River Dam Environmental Impact Assessment

McLean Creek, AB
Alberta Transportation
2016 – 2017

Ausenco successfully managed the Environmental Impact Assessment under the harmonized Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act processes.


The Elbow River Dam at McLean Creek (MC1) project involved the construction of an earth fill dam across the main stem of the Elbow River, approximately 10km upstream from the hamlet of Bragg Creek in Southern Alberta, to mitigate damage associated with potential flooding such as occurred in 2013. The project, which is being considered as an alternative to the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir (SR1) project, would involve a dam to retain flood waters and allow for an attenuation of flows to avoid downstream damage.


Ausenco undertook an Environmental Assessment of the proposed McLean Creek project option to support the SR1 alternatives assessment required as part of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The SR1 project is subject to review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) and the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (AEPEA).

We selected Valued Components (VCs) to reflect the values and priorities of regulators, Indigenous groups, the public, and the scientific community. Biological VCs that were studied to support the development of the EIS include vegetation; wetlands; wildlife and wildlife habitat; fish and fish habitat; and aquatic resources. For each of these biological VCs, we collected baseline data (desktop and field studies), identified potential project-related effects, and identified practical and effective mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate potential effects. We developed all figures and maps including GIS analysis to determine the spatial extent of any potential effects.

We led the assessment of socio-economic and physical VCs including socio-economic and land use, air quality (including GHGs), noise, contaminated sites, heritage resources and soils, soils and terrain, water quality, hydrology, and hydrogeology. Following submission of the SR1 EIS, Ausenco supported Alberta Transportation in participating in the Natural Resources Conservation Board hearing and Canadian Environment Assessment Agencies review that will support the review of the SR1 EA. In this context, Ausenco personnel participated in SR1 open houses and consultation processes and acted as witnesses and defended the alternatives assessment undertaken for the McLean Creek project.


Ausenco successfully managed the EA under the harmonized CEAA 2012 and AEPEA processes.