Advancing the Practice of Soil Bioengineering in Alberta – the Bow River Bioengineering Demonstration and Education Project

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Mike Gallant, Norma Posada, Jonathan Slaney, Pierre Raymond

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The Bow River Bioengineering Demonstration and Education Project (BDEP) is an award winning, next generation riverbank erosion protection project. Borne in response to the 2013 flood, it was the largest initiative under the Alberta Environment and Parks department Southern Alberta Fisheries Habitat Enhancement and Sustainability program. The project includes three key elements: design and construction of a bioengineering demonstration site on the Bow River in Calgary, a monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of the constructed works, and an education program to educate professionals and the public about the advantages of using bioengineering techniques. Project design and construction were completed from 2016 to 2019. Fourteen different bioengineering techniques were constructed along 720 m of riverbank. Seven commonly used techniques were constructed to showcase how they can be achieved successfully. Seven innovative bioengineering techniques were piloted to expand the engineering design toolbox in Calgary. Over 100 trees, 2300 potted shrubs, and 30,000 live cuttings were planted at the site. Over 2000 tonnes of concrete rubble, wood debris, and steel were removed from the riverbank. Post-construction monitoring of fish, wildlife, riparian health, and structure integrity will occur at the BDEP over a 10-year period from 2019 to 2029. Results for 2019 and 2020 monitoring show that planted vegetation survival is 76%, both fish and wildlife are using the wildlife passage corridor and constructed fish habitat, and riparian health has improved. Ongoing education initiatives include interpretive site signage, site tours, technical presentations, and a City of Calgary website that openly shares project technical documentation

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program