The Bassano Dam is owned and operated by the Eastern Irrigation District (EID).
The Bassano Dam is located approximately six kilometers southwest of the Town of Bassano at the area on the Bow River known as Horseshoe Bend. Since 1914, water from the Bow River has been diverted from this location into an intricate irrigation conveyance system to serve irrigated agricultural land within the District’s boundaries. Construction of the Bassano Dam began in September 1910 and was completed in the spring of 1914. The official opening took place on May 2, 1914, with a total construction cost of just over $1.4 million.
In 1935, a group of farmers in the Brooks area acquired the Bassano Dam and the canal system from the CPR, forming the Eastern Irrigation District.
After 70 years of operation, the original structure was beginning to deteriorate. In the 1980’s, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) rehabilitated the Bassano Dam by rebuilding the upper (above ground) concrete for the spillway and adding a 400 meter long fuse plug near the west end of the earthen dam, bringing the dam up to safety standards of the day. Refurbishing work began in January 1985 with 2.5 years required to complete the project. This major facelift cost 14 million dollars with the end result being a very modern, motorized dam capable of diverting 100 mÂ³/s (3,500 cfs) into the District’s water system.
The Bassano Dam was very noteworthy in 1914 for its unusual structure and capacity.
The dam is a symbol of the challenges faced by the early pioneers to overcome obstacles and make irrigation farming a viable and prosperous agricultural enterprise in Western Canada.
To book a tour please call the Eastern Irrigation District at 403-362-1400.