TransAlta’s Bighorn Dam to Release Water from Spillway to Manage Water Elevation at Lake Abraham Reservoir

CALGARY, Alberta (July 20, 2021) – TransAlta will be releasing water from the spillway at its Bighorn Dam starting Thursday, July 22, 2021. The spillway flows into the North Saskatchewan River west of Nordegg.

River flows will increase over several days and reach approximately 175 m³/s.  This is at the upper end of normal river flows below the dam, is higher than seasonal water flows, and similar to what is experienced during spring melt.

The release is a proactive operation to manage water elevation in Lake Abraham. An ongoing maintenance outage at the generating station combined with high spring inflows has combined to make the release necessary.

TransAlta’s Hydro Operations team is working with the Government of Alberta to temporarily restrict access around the Bighorn Dam and adjacent area to allow the release to proceed safely. The public is asked to avoid the area, respect posted signage and follow directions given by Conservation Officers and TransAlta staff to ensure their safety.

TransAlta has advised communities downstream that the release event is to occur. Communities, outdoor enthusiasts and recreationists making use of the river should be aware of higher water levels and that the river may contain more sediment and debris than normally expected.

“TransAlta’s first priority is the safety and well-being of employees, the public, and the communities where we live and work,” says Scott Taylor, Chief Engineer, Dam Safety. “The public is asked to remain clear of all waterways immediately upstream and downstream of the facility as flows may change rapidly and without notice. Increased water volumes and fast flowing debris will present an elevated risk level to any river users during this period.”

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