Uncovering Confederation Creek, article from Friends of Confederation Creek

Pictured: Confederation Creek beneath the Highland Park Valley. A pipe is no place for a creek!

By Elliot Lindsay – Friends of Confederation Creek

The Friends of Confederation Creek (FOCC) are a volunteer-led society concerned with the preservation, protection, and restoration of the Confederation Creek watershed. This year, thanks to Watershed Stewardship Grant funding administered by the Land Stewardship Center of Canada, we have launched the “Uncovering Confederation Creek” project. Uncovering Confederation Creek seeks to tell the story of streams in this watershed, past and present, and generate interest and discussion on the future of these important and underappreciated streams. We encourage anyone interested in learning more and getting involved to contact us at friendsofconfederationcreek@gmail.com and to follow us on Facebook.

The Confederation Creek Watershed (drainage area) covers an area of 2700 hectares of NW Calgary, encompassing communities from Shaganappi Trail NW, all the way to Edmonton Trail NE on the south side of Nose Hill; from Brentwood and Varsity to Highland Park and Thorncliffe Greenview. Confederation Park is where most Calgarians know and see Confederation Creek. Downstream of the park, the creek enters the storm sewer system via a concrete vault at 30 Ave NW. Many of the streams in the Confederation Creek Watershed were buried in concrete pipes through a process known as “culverting” during the development of area communities beginning in the 1950s. For this reason, many residents are unaware that they even exist. A portion of Queen’s Park Creek remains above ground in the northwestern portion of the cemetery, supplying a steady year-round flow of cold clean groundwater to Confederation Creek. It too is culverted for the remainder of its length however, meeting Confederation Creek underground near the intersection of 4th St. and 40th Ave NW.

Downstream, The Highland Park Valley sees Confederation Creek meet several tributaries, including Trafford Creek and McKnight Creek, both culverted streams originating on the SE slopes of Nose Hill and flowing beneath roads and greenspaces to the valley. Confederation Creek then flows beneath Centre St. and winds south and east through greenspace to reach Nose Creek at stormwater outfall N25, across Edmonton Trail from RONA.

Much of the water falling in the watershed as rain or snowmelt, and groundwater which slowly percolates downhill through soil and rock, ends up in Confederation Creek via stormwater, springs, and tributary streams. Rain rushes to Confederation Creek causing flooding during large rain events due to the large watershed area, much of which has been converted to pavement, rooftops, roads and hard surfaces, rushing through concrete pipes preventing the slowing, filtering, and settling that happens in natural stream corridors.

Bringing some of these buried streams back to the surface where they can be restored and enjoyed by Calgarians is an exciting opportunity commonly referred to as daylighting. In the next article, we will take a look at what daylighting is and how it might be used to recover these special features and address issues relating to flooding and water quality.

 

Vanessa Gillard

Programming and community engagement coordinator at the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association. Spouse Adam Grayton

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