As the snow pillows in the mountains above the Red Deer River basin begin to melt in May and June, feeding the Red Deer River and its tributaries, the annual fill cycle of the Gleniffer Reservoir begins.
Water from the Red Deer River basin will flow into the Gleniffer Reservoir to be captured and stored, and released into the Red Deer River watershed via the Dickson Dam located approximately 180 kilometres northwest of the Town of Drumheller.
“The mountain runoff volume for the Red Deer River at Dickson Dam through September is forecast to be average this year,” says Alberta Environments and Parks Communications Advisor Jason Penner.
He explains snow pillows in three locations in the Rocky Mountains which feed the Red Deer River basin-Limestone Ridge, Skoki Lodge, and McConnell Creek-range from within normal range to slightly above average range.
Although the snow pillows in these regions are between normal and above average ranges, the water level of Gleniffer Reservoir is currently below average, partly due to unseasonably dry fall and winter conditions.
“The lower reservoir levels are not currently of concern as higher elevation mountain snowmelt is primarily used to start filling the reservoir in late May and June, as is the case every year,” Mr. Penner shares.
Mr. Penner adds snow in the higher elevations is just beginning to melt and this runoff has not yet reached Gleniffer Reservoir. As this runoff reaches the reservoir and begins its annual fill cycle, operators at the Dickson Dam will regulate the amount of water supply released from the reservoir and into the Red Deer River for flood attenuation.
“Historically, Dickson Dam has been able to effectively reduce the impacts of small and medium-sized flood events,” Mr. Penner says.
He notes flood attenuation during the 2005 and 2013 floods helped reduce the flow levels in the Red Deer River and kept floodwaters from overtopping the berms and dikes throughout the Drumheller Valley and preventing further flood damage within the community.