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Flood 2005: Lessons Learned

Susan Ryan

Presented by Kelly Carter and Ryan Willson June 14, 2006


B.Sc. Environmental Science Program

ENSC401 Field School I ENSC501 Field School II ENSC502 Special Projects in Environmental Management ENSC503 - Environmental Assessment and Hearings ENSC 502 students 2005-2006
A.Beal, K. Beyak, K. Carter, S. D'Abadie, S. Durham, E. Fulowski, C. Greene, K. Harris, T. Hirsche, E. Johanson, T. Lesack, J. Martin, J. Migdal, D. Nalley, M. Panek, A. Pfliger, N. Poon, J. Purcell, G. Rokosh, S. Roome-Sandrin, E. Savard, D. Stein, E. Swerdfeger, M. Towey, and R. Willson.

Project Mentors L. Henderson, W. Holden, D. Iredale, M. Iwanyshyn, D. Nuell, and C. Ryan.


Flood 2005: Lessons Learned

Hydrologic Aspects of Elbow River Watershed Flooding Bow River Ecological Changes Following Flood 2005 Surface Water Quality Changes During Flooding Spatial distribution of Flood Damage in Rideau and Roxboro Flood Risk Perceptions of Rideau and Roxboro Residents: An Exploratory Review City of Calgary Riparian Zone Assessment


Hydrologic Aspects of Elbow River Watershed Flooding

Kim Beyak, Stephen dAbadie, Sarah Durham, Mike Panek, Elise Savard, Ryan Willson


Elbow River Watershed

Elbow River approximately 120 km Watershed area is 1230 km2 Alluvial Aquifer Area is 67 km2 25 year average discharge 8 m3/s Significant Historical Floods in 1923 and 1932

Elbow River Alluvial Aquifer

River-connected, highly permeable, sand and gravel bottomlands

Image from ENSC 502, 2002-2003

Schematic cross section of Elbow River showing alluvial aquifer


Water table

Meyboom, 1961

Glacial drift Alluvial gravel (aquifer)

Shale Sandstone

The Big Question

How do hydrological aspects interact to influence flood magnitude and frequency?

Bow River June 2005: Center Street Bridge

Study Purpose
1. What causes flooding?
Precipitation in the watershed Stream Discharge Elbow River alluvial aquifer behaviour

2. During the 2005 flood event which one of these three factors was dominant? Are other flood years similar?
3. How accurate are recurrence intervals?

Maximum discharge at each river gauging station during three major flood events.

Log Discharge (m3/s) Log Discharge (cms)

2005 1990


10 Bragg Creek Above Calgary Glenmore Dam

River Discharge does not increase significantly moving downstream

Floods can be influenced by more than just precipitation

300 70 60 50 200 40 150 30 100 20 50 10 0 1981 1990 Discharge (cms)" 1995 Precipitation (mm) 2005 Peak Annual Precipitation (mm 250 Peak Discharge (cms)

Comparing peak discharge volumes at Sarcee Bridge and precipitation amounts recorded at Elbow River Ranger Station for extreme years.

1981 Elbow River Flood interaction of climatic factors

Quantity (cms,mm x 10,cm x 10, degrees C) 500 400 300 200 100 0 -100 -200 -300
Ja n Ja n Fe b Fe b M ar M ar Ap r Ap M r ay M ay Ju n Ju n Ju l Ju Au l g Au g Se p Se p O ct N ov N ov D ec D ec
Time (day)


Mean Temperature

Total Rainfall

Total Snowfall

Does the alluvial aquifer return to pre-flood levels between flood years?
Estimated Aquifer Storage (Millions of m3) 400 300 200 100 0 -100 -200

Baseflow recession calculations depicting the amount of water stored within the aquifer during the recession period following a peak discharge event.

19 65 -1 19 96 66 6 -1 19 96 67 7 -1 19 96 68 8 -1 19 96 92 9 -1 19 99 93 3 -1 19 99 94 4 -1 19 99 95 5 -1 19 99 96 6 -1 20 99 02 7 -2 20 00 03 3 -2 20 00 04 4 -2 00 5
Flow Recession Year

Flood Recurrence Intervals

A Flood Recurrence Interval (RI) is the probability of a flood of a given magnitude occurring in any given year The term 1 in 100 year or 1 in 5 year flood does not refer to how often that flood occurs, but the probability of that flood occurring A 1 in 100 year flood may occur more than once in 100 years

Flood Probability
Recurrence Intervals and Flows
1 in 20 Year Flood = 340 m3/s 1 in 100 Year Flood = 758 m3/s (As calculated by Alberta Environment)

When flows exceed 170 m3/s flooding begins below the dam
Glenmore Reservoir was at 64 % of capacity on June 5, 2005

Recurrence Intervals are Sensitive to the Data Set

RI for a flood of the magnitude experienced in June 2005 Discharge Stations Bragg Creek Above Glenmore Dam Below Glenmore Dam

(a) RI ( using all available years)

1 in 72 yrs (1934- 2005)

1 in 24 yrs (1979 - 2005)

1 in 49 yrs (1908 - 2005)

(b) RI (1979-2005 at all stations)

1 in 28 yrs

1 in 24 yrs

1 in 28 yrs

1. Flooding is influenced most by climatic factors above Bragg Creek 2. In 2005 the main factor influencing the flood magnitude was precipitation upstream of Calgary
In any given year a number of factors interact to determine the magnitude of discharge in the Elbow River Precipitation is generally the flood trigger

3. Over-winter groundwater storage doesnt play a significant role in spring floods 4. Recurrence interval estimation is highly sensitive to length of data record

Bow River Ecological Changes Following the 2005 Flood

Elizabeth Fulowski, Trevor Hirsche, Jessica Martin, Jenn Migdal, Joey Purcell, Erin Swerdfeger


Potential changes due to flooding

Healthy Stable banks Low sediment nutrient concentrations Low abundance of rock algae and aquatic plants Unhealthy Bank erosion and sediment infill High sediment nutrient concentrations High abundance of rock algae and aquatic plants



Investigate the ecological changes after the 2005 flood

Pre and post flood comparison using data including last years ENSC 502 data

Study Area

Samples taken November 5th and 10th, 2005 Methods followed Alberta Environments (AENV) Water Quality Sampling Manual 2002 or other standard methods


Heritage Southland Heritage


Pine Creek

Pine Creek

River Parameters
Rock algae (Periphyton) Stream Insects (Macroinvertebrates) Aquatic Plants (Macrophytes) River bed profiles River Sediment Nutrients
- Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P)

Brown Trout spawning nests (redds)

- Elbow River

Summary of Results
Recovered quickly: Rock algae Time for recovery unknown: Aquatic insects Variable response to flood Aquatic plants (dramatic decrease) Little observed change: Water quality Trout redds Other findings: Sediment nutrients lower in most samples




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http://www.dec.state.ny. us/website/dow/stream/c adb.jpg



Results: Stream Insects

Pine Creek

2005 2004


Heritage Ogden





Number of Groups
At each site along the Bow River, insect diversity decreased from 2004 to 2005.

Aquatic Plants

http://members.fortun s/aq13.jpg

http://members.fortunec 10.jpg

Advantages Traps sediment, thereby cleaning the water column Habitat for stream insects Disadvantages Increases in sediment nutrients can lead to excessive macrophyte growth Affects dissolved oxygen

Results: Aquatic Plants

80 70 B io m ass (g /m 2 ) 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Ogden Heritage Southland Pine Creek Site

2005 2004

Macrophyte biomass observed at four sites in the Bow River with mean and SE (standard error) for 2004 and 2005.

Results: Brown Trout redds

450 400 350

# redds

300 250 200 150 100 50 0 1980

No data available these years









Number of Brown trout redds observed in the lower Elbow River since 1980 (no survey 2003). Data courtesy of C. Bjornson, Golder Associates.

Results: River Bed Profiles



Depth (m)


Depth (m)



0.6 0.9 1.2












Distance from West Bank (m)

Distance from West Bank (m)

VE: ~30

VE: ~7.5

Vertically Exaggerated (VE) stream profiles near the Ogden and Southland sites showing the cross-section of the stream bed before and after the flood.

Major ecological changes were found along the Bow River Some already recovered (rock algae), although other parameters may take a while to recover Scouring is most likely responsible for many of the changes Further analysis would be required to establish long term changes

Spatial Distribution of Flood Damage in Rideau and Roxboro

How was the June 2005 flood damage distributed, and what influenced that distribution? Distance from river Elevation above river Were current bylaws appropriate for minimizing damage?

What did we study?

Tangible Damage due to overland flow and underground seepage Door-to-door survey GIS to integrate and evaluate data


Initial Findings
Response Rate

Total Amounts of Damage

Within 6m Setback: > $1,150,000 Outside 6m Setback: > $1,157,000

Percentage of Homes Sustaining Damage

26% 74%

Grandfathered No Damage Grandfathered Damaged



Outside Setback No Damage Outside Setback Damaged

Overland Flow in the June 2005 Flood Event Overland flow

accounted for only 17% of total damage Majority of damage result of groundwater table coming up into basement

Average Damage vs. Distance from 6m Setback

n= 19

Average Damage (ten of thousands $)

n= 20


n= 12


n= 10

n= 3

n= 4

n= 3 1

n= 2

n= 2

n= 4

n= 2

n= 6

0 -6 0 12








108 120 132 144 156 168 180 192 204 216 228 240 252 264

Distance from 6m Setback (m)

n= 3

n= 3

n= 1

n= 1

n= 1

n= 1

n= 0

n= 1

n= 1

n= 1


Proportional Damage to Homes

74% of homes inside setback damaged 63% of homes less than 6m outside setback damaged Setback only moderately appropriate for minimizing damage

Damage vs. Ground Elevation above Elbow River

Ground elevation was as predictive of damage as distance from river 50% of flood damage occurred to homes with ground elevations < 2.98m above the river (90% to homes < 3.66m above river) Variability suggests other factors are relevant

Comparison of basement depth and ground elevation with river stage

Study Conclusions
Underground seepage (not overland flow) responsible for most of flood damage Ground elevation above river was as good a predictor of this damage as distance from floodway

What does this tell us about the setback?

A better approach:

Regulate basement depths with respect to river (and water) table elevation Consider zoning areas based on basement elevation above 1:100 year river (and groundwater level) as well as distance from floodway

Future City of Calgary Riparian Zone Assessment

Presented by: Alison Beal
Elizabeth Fulowski, Trevor Hirsche, Jessica Martin, Jenn Migdal, Joey Purcell, Erin Swerdfeger


Assessment of Riparian Health

Previous work has been conducted at a large scale by Cows and Fish along the South Saskatchewan River Basin Extensive assessment within urban areas will help to evaluate the riparian zone susceptibility to erosion in future flood events

Riparian Health in Calgary

Proposed Assessment:
Identify erosion susceptibility Cost and benefit of re-naturalization

EXAMPLE: Southland - outer meander exhibiting substantial erosion after the flood

Photo courtesy of Don Binns, City of Calgary Parks

Riparian Zone Recommendations

Re-naturalizing bank may reduce impact of flood water on river banks A healthy riparian zone including woody vegetation is the most effective in limiting erosion due to flooding

Don Binns City of Calgary Parks Bert van Duin Westhoff Engineering Resources, Inc. Mac Hickley Rivers Valley Council Cathy Ryan - U of C, ENSC 502 Mentor Susan Ryan - RVC Dr. Mary-Ellen Tyler U of C, EVDS

Photo courtesy of Susan Ryan

Don Binns City of Calgary Parks Chris Bjornsen Golder Associates Maarten Dankers ENSC graduate Bert van Duin Westhoff Engineering Resources, Inc. Mac Hickley Rivers Valley Council Don Iredale U of C Mike Iwanyshyn U of C Doreen LeClair, Ray Walker, Al Sosiak - AENV Farzin Malekani U of C Brenda Mottle U of C Dr. Cathy Ryan U of C Gillian Savage and Travis Johnson, U of C Dr. Mary-Ellen Tyler U of C, EVDS

David Nuell Cathy Ryan Linda Henderson Mac Hickley Bill Morrison Susan Ryan Chris Arko Bryce Haimila Larry Garner Terry Fedick Gordon Smith Dave Lieske

Dr. Anil Gupta (AENV) Dr. Masaki Hayashi (U of C) Mike Iwanyshyn (U of C) Dr. Shawn Marshall (U of C) Greg Rokosh (ENSC 502) Dr. Cathy Ryan (U of C) Dr. Caterina Valeo (U of C) Alberta Environment Environment Canada Natural Resources Canada