Flooding

  • As Canadian Water Week winds down  we would like to share a series of videos on innovative stormwater management in British Columbia produced by the Master of Land and Water Systems (MLWS) program.  

    The following introduction is by Dr. Hans Schreier

  • Today's post is courtesy of Adam Driedzic, Staff Counsel at the Environmental Law Centre, and first appeared on the ELC blog. If you would like to read more about environmental legislation, public policy or regulation, visit the Environmental Law Centre website or blog.

  • Two reports have been released from AI-EES and Alberta WaterSMART, one with conclusions from the February Workshop and another which compares the Alberta Flood Forecast system to other jurisdictions from across Canada and the globe. These reports focus on flood forecasting rather than flood mitigation, and are a follow up to a workshop we live tweeted back in February. As always, if you have feedback we will send it on to the authors. 

    Having attended the workshop, the following would be the top three most interesting things (to the author) mentioned at the workshop.

    1.Data Collection - Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRahs)

    One problem that plagues flood forecasting is a lack of data, however that may change with enough citizen involvement. CoCoRahs is a volunteer program where individuals measure the rain at their home every day and submit information to a database thereby expanding the available data. This database can then be used by Flood Forecasters, Researchers, Modellers, or whoever is just curious to view the data or calibrate models. CoCoRaHs is a popular tool used in the U.S. that allows citizens to provide rainfall data to flood forecasting specialists. Specifically, Colorado used CoCoRaHs as an additional tool for acquiring precipitation data to determine water quantities during their 2013 flood. If you’re interested in contributing, visit the CoCoRahs website for more information. Data collected from southern basins Alberta will be used put to good use. The data submitted from southern Alberta basins eventually feed into the Manitoba River Forecast Centre which uses CoCoRahs in their forecasting systems.

  • Over the past few months, WaterPortal readers have raised concerns about reduced insurance coverage and increased rates related to flooding. We felt this presented the opportunity to revisit the impacts of flooding on insurance and take a look at broader climate change issues that could impact insurance coverage in the future.  

  • March 31st was the due date for multiple reports from engineering groups to submit assessments of "flood reduction projects options". As those reports become publically available they will be added to the Alberta WaterPortal for our users to view. 

    One final report that is already public is Alberta WaterSMART's final report for the Bow Basin Flood Mitigation and Watershed Management Project. It was submitted to the ADM Flood Recovery Task Force on March 31st. This project was funded by Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions and the Task Force.

  • A flood warning has been issued for areas in the Oldman Basin and the South Saskatchewan River Sub Basin. This blog entry will be updated as the event unfolds, however we can not guarantee that we will always have the most timely information. For the most up to date details individuals should look to the Alberta Emergency Alerts website, the River Forecast Centre, and their local municipality.

     

    As of June 30th the state of Alberta Emergency Alerts regard this rain and flood event are no longer in effect. Some impacted areas require donations to help with recovery. Check the previous updates for contact information of municipalities to see if they have a call out for additional help.

  • The following is a speech given by Don Barnett to the Inland Waters Directorate of Environment Canada in 1976. Don Barnett was mayor of Rapid City, South Dakota during one of the worst floods in South Dakota's history and at the time of this speech one of the worst floods in U.S. history. 

    We hope that the speech below will stir some thoughts from you, our readers, on how to mitigate floods in the future in Southern Alberta. 

  • On October 3rd the WaterPortal participated in a tour of the Nose Creek Watershed hosted by Calgary River Valleys. We reported live from the event using Twitter. For our readers who don’t use Twitter, we have put together a Storify document with all the tweets from the tour. If you have any comments or feedback send us an email.  

  • Over the past several weeks we have been on a learning journey teaching us how ecologically healthy watersheds mitigate for flood flow volumes. Specifically we have learned that:

    • healthy soils rich in organic matter hold and store more water than depleted soil systems;
    • established wetlands act as sponges across the landscape absorbing surface water runoff, subsequently replenishing our aquifers while slowly releasing runoff into our streams and rivers;
    • dense riparian edges provide buffer zones that slow down high flow volumes, and at the same time, filter surface and subsurface runoff; and
    • undeveloped vegetated floodplains provide the river room to meander and attenuate flood flow volumes via established roots structures.

    This has all highlighted the beneficial flood mitigation functions these ecologies offer us and led us to this final blog in the series.

    We have touched on the multifunctional role these ecologies play in providing us with many other important ecosystem goods and services such as drought mitigation, improved water quality and biodiversity, erosion control, climate regulation, important habitats for aquatic and terrestrial species, and recreational spaces for humans. This is a reminder that investing in the ecological resiliency of our watersheds for flood mitigation creates many other positive feedback loops.

  • A recent article written in The Guardian by scientist George Monbiot[1]discusses emergent research coming out of the United Kingdom that tells us rivers do not necessarily store the precipitation that falls in their catchments; but rather the majority of the precipitation is stored in the soils of their floodplains  This scientific finding directly questions the value of traditional flood mitigation measures, such as canalizing and dredging rivers, techniques that are now known to increase flow rates to downstream communities.

    Some scientists are now pushing for the implementation of softer engineered solutions, such as the rewilding of our rivers. Rewilding rivers, among other elements, requires the redesigning of curves and snags back into the river system along with connecting rivers to uninhabited land designated for flooding.The likelihood for downstream flooding can be greatly reduced by creating a catchment for sediment and rock, ultimately reducing the energy and speed of the river.

  • In August 2013, Alberta WaterSMART released the collaborative White Paper,The 2013 Great Alberta Flood: Actions to Mitigate, Manage and Control Future Floods. A broad group of practitioners from across Alberta, Canada and the world participated in developing this paper. The paper was created to provide proactive recommendations for flood management in Alberta.  

    During the creation of the paper, two draft versions were posted on the Alberta WaterPortal with the intent of collecting public feedback. The response was excellent, leading to the creation of two separate feedback documents, which are available here.

    Since the release of the original White Paper, much has been accomplished by different levels of government, various provincial organizations, businesses and individuals. To reflect these efforts, Alberta WaterSMART has revisited the recommendations outlined in the White Paper and created The 2013 Great Alberta Flood: Progress Report on Actions to Mitigate, Manage and Control Flooding to highlight actions and activities undertaken to date, and to outline planned next steps.

  • A final copy of The 2013 Great Alberta Flood: Actions to Mitigate, Manage and Control Future Floods whitepaper has been released. This document consists of collaborative recommendations made by Canada’s leading water experts. The document has been evolving for over a month thanks to the received feedback from water experts and Albertans. This document was written as a collaborative teamwork to determine the recommended actions that should be taken to strategize for future flooding.

    During the creation of this report, two draft versions were posted here with the request for public feedback. The response was excellent, leading to the creation of a separate feedback document titled The 2013 Great Alberta Flood: Actions to Mitigate, Manage and Control Future Floods Feedback Compendium which catelogues the feedback received. 

    We’d like to thank everyone who sent in feedback on the draft iteration when it was posed two weeks ago. Additional information about this document will be posted on the Alberta WaterSMART website as it arises.  

    If you didn’t get a chance to share your feedback or if you have additional thoughts after reading the final version of the whitepaper please do not hesitate to contact us, and like always please continue to check our news section for updates on what is happening around water in Alberta.