Continual development adjacent to and surrounding the Western Irrigation District (WID) irrigation works is accelerating stormwater management challenges for both the WID and surrounding communities. Communities have limited options for stormwater discharge; yet current flooding and discharge into the irrigation works creates on-going maintenance challenges for the WID. There is a need to develop a long term sustainable solution for stormwater management. Recognizing a shared ownership of the system’s current challenges, surrounding communities as well as the WID have come together and formed the Co-operative Stormwater Management Initiative (CSMI).
CSMI is based on collaboration and an open and transparent process. Partners include Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP), the City of Chestermere, the City of Calgary, Rocky View County (RVC), the Town of Strathmore, Wheatland County and the WID. Alberta Environment and Parks participates as an observer.
CSMI Purpose and Desired Outcomes
With the support of WaterSMART, the CSMI partners developed a terms of reference and agreed upon the purpose and desired outcomes of the CSMI, which have remained unchanged since inception. The overarching principle of a continued CSMI is that “a stormwater management plan is followed and managed as required by all partners, promoting consistent sharing of information and responsibility for collaborative management.”
The CSMI was formed to allow for proactive participation in creating sustainable stormwater solutions that will accommodate the needs of all interested parties and the environment. More specifically, the purpose of the CSMI is to:
- create a mechanism to engage in ongoing dialogue to share information and proactively adapt to an ever-changing stormwater context; and,
- develop and update a flexible plan for a sustainable stormwater management system that accommodates multiple interests.
CSMI has the following desired outcomes:
- a process for ongoing collaboration; and,
- a flexible plan for a sustainable stormwater system that:
- provides ongoing support of irrigation needs in terms of water quality and water quantity;
- meets Bow River re-entry requirements;
- ensures the various parts to the stormwater system are integrated;
- adopts a collaborative approach to management and funding of the system;
- is developed using transparent and fact-based processes; and,
- produces a stormwater system that, together with the irrigation system, is resilient in wet years and has the capacity for meeting irrigation needs in dry years.
In 2012 and 2013, the CSMI and WaterSMART identified and assessed numerous infrastructure and non-infrastructure stormwater management options based on the interests of partners. With this assessment, and the collaborative discussion amongst partners, a number of preferred options were identified. The options aligned with three main categories of regional non-infrastructure options, regional infrastructure options, and sub-regional infrastructure options.
In 2013, MPE Engineering Ltd. was retained to complete an engineering assessment of the preferred stormwater management options. Subsequently in 2014 and 2015, they also completed a water balance and stream erosion analysis of the preferred options.
WaterSMART has continually provided project management, activity integration, coordination, facilitation, and regulatory and technical domain knowledge throughout the project. In addition, in 2014 and 2015, WaterSMART provided advisory services for CSMI in evaluating governance structures for the CSMI to maintain the collaborative mechanism moving forward.
The CSMI continues to move toward developing and implementing a stormwater strategy to provide guidance for development over a 25 year time frame in the partner communities and throughout the WID geographical area. The process and its activities continue with shared partner funding, as well as grant programs, where possible, including the RBC Blue Water project.