Posted by: Vicki Burns | August 19, 2011

Manitoba’s $632 Million Flood Costs Signal Need for Major Flood Mitigation Investments

Deerwood Dam South Tobacco Creek

Today we received the latest estimates of this year’s flood costs – $632 million for fighting the flood and compensating those who had suffered damages related to it. Imagine what the total costs would be if you added in Saskatchewan and North Dakota’s bills. Manitobans are hoping to recover $478 million of those costs from the federal government but any way you look at it, these costs are covered by our taxes and each one of us who pays taxes should be paying attention to this.
Given what scientists are telling us about changing climate patterns, we can expect to see floods of this nature much more frequently in the future as the severity of storms increases the amount of precipitation that is dropped at any one time. To some this might seem like a hopeless scenario but there is something we can do about it. We can immediately begin work on a variety of measures that will hold water on the land longer whether it be wetland restoration or preservation ; waffling systems such as are being developed in the Red River Basin; a series of small dams similar to what’s being going on in the Tobacco Creek watershed. There are a number of ways to increase water retention on the land and given the extreme dryness we’ve experienced this summer immediately following the flood, there are several good reasons to do this.
The big challenge will be to persuade governments to invest in this type of flood mitigation. At a time when we’re trying to decrease deficits and bring back balanced budgets how can we spend more to compensate landowners for some of these water retention methods that will need to occur on private land? My thought is that we can’t afford not to make these investments now. Otherwise our flood costs in future years may really bankrupt us!


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