Posted by: Vicki Burns | July 8, 2014

Summer Floods Wreak Destruction, Can We do Anything to Decrease Future Risks?

For the past few weeks our news has been dominated by the summer floods in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and just today I received this news of significant flooding around the North Central United States. Today I also listened to an interesting piece on CBC radio in which 2 well known scientists, John Pomeroy, University of Saskatchewan and Dave Sauchyn, University of Regina talked about what was contributing to the floods. One thing that is very evident is that summer floods are a new phenomenon. It used to be that most of the major flooding occurred in springtime as the snowmelt sent volumes of water into our rivers. However with the increased incidence of heavy rainfall, sometimes lasting days, summer floods are becoming a real risk.

Flooding across road summer 2014

Flooding across road summer 2014

The flood of 2011, which centred mainly around the Assiniboine River, has been referred to as a one in three hundred year flood but as we now see, it has recurred 3 short years later. It is hard to imagine the frustration, stress and hopelessness that people living in the path of the flood must feel. And for those of us concerned about our lakes, we know that all this flooding will inevitably bring more phosphorus which feeds the blue-green algae that are fouling too many of our waterways.
In addition to all the suffering of humans, animals and damage to the environment, there are the financial costs that every Canadian taxpayer will bear. Costs related to floods will be partially paid by provincial taxpayers, partially by all of us federal taxpayers and of course, a lot borne by the individuals who suffer the consequences of flooding to their own properties. I think it is time for us to get very, very serious about how to decrease these risks in the future.
Its time to create a plan to restore a certain % of our drained wetlands, to “rehabilitate” the water holding capacity of our land. I know this is not an easy task but personally I would prefer to have part of my tax dollars go to prevention rather than all to crisis management. According to the Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan drainage in the Yorkton, Saskatchewan area since 1958 increased the severity of the 2011 flood by 32%. Further to that they predict that if wetlands could be restored to 1958 levels it would decrease peak flows during floods by 26 %.
So if we humans have been smart enough to send men to the moon, surely we can be smart enough to figure out how to rehabilitate our lands to restore the water holding capacity and other related benefits. Let’s get going on prevention before the next crisis occurs!

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Responses

  1. Amen. mosquitos, blackflies, washed out roads, wet, moldy drywall and carpets, furntiure from basement crumpled in driveway, delayed/nonexistent crops, weird mold on rose bushes, no shore at the lake, Just a few things I have noticed this year.

  2. First the government has to admit there’s a problem with flooding & the water shed. It’s little difficult for the average citizen of MB to take this issue seriously when our provincial flood forecasters have press conferences & make ridiculous announcements to the effect that what were is incurring “a 1 in 500 year event” or “1 in 300 year flood”. So for 99.9% of people in the province this issue isn’t a priority. Most people that use our lakes (especially in Interlake) or live near them have noticed subtle changes in or near the lake over the past twenty years, which has culminated to the deplorable conditions that we are currently experiencing. In addition to the spring & summer flooding you refer to, we also experience flooding in the fall because abnormally high saturation levels in land near the lake for an extended period of time. This excess water & moisture is retained in the soils close to lake is usually contaminated and has also caused the quality of our drinking water to drastically decline. I used to swim in the lake & haven’t done so for about 10 years but what bothers me most is my kids have never gone swimming & probably won’t get to enjoy the simple pleasures of the water because of contaminants. I won’t even let my pets near the water in case they get poisoned! Hopefully action is initiated by our MP’s & MLA’s adjacent to the lake, so everyone can eventually start enjoying all the benefits offered by Manitoba’s most precious resource.

    • I understand your frustration. I can’t bear the idea that our waters are becoming unsafe, particularly when there is clearly a way to stop the degradation. One very important thing we can all do, is to let our elected representatives from municipal, to provincial to federal, know that what is happening to our lakes is important to us and we expect them to support and facilitate the necessary policies and actions to restore their health.


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