October 21, 2013
Alberta undertaking flood hazard studies
The Alberta government is planning to complete a series of flood hazard studies to help improve public safety by providing municipalities with better information to make community-planning decisions.
“Flood hazard studies are important science-based tools that provide quality, long-term information to help plan our communities,” said Diana McQueen, minister of environment and sustainable resource development.
“New funding will ensure municipalities continue to receive this valuable service from Alberta’s flood hazard identification program.”
Alberta is spending an additional $8.7 million in new funding to complete studies under the provincial Flood Hazard Identification Program over the next six to seven years.
Currently, more than 70 per cent of Alberta’s populated areas have completed studies and maps.
Flood hazard studies are long-term planning tools, which synthesize a lot of different information to help forecast how the landscape around water bodies may be impacted by flooding, and assist surrounding communities with appropriate development.
It takes 18 to 24 months to complete a flood hazard study.
After a major flood, the province collects information about the extent of the flood in order to evaluate flood hazard studies that have been impacted.
The government is evaluating the June 2013 flood event and will conduct an assessment to see if updates to existing flood hazard studies are required.
For Alberta, a design flood event is defined as a flood event with a one per cent chance of occurring annually.
This is also known as a one in 100 year flood event.
According to a study commissioned by Alberta Transportation in 2001, there is a continuous record of the Bow River in Calgary from 1911.
But, the three largest known floods all occurred before 1911, in 1879, 1897 and 1902.
The fourth highest flood in Calgary happened in 1932.
Since 1932, there had been no storms of any significance causing flooding until 2005 and 2013.
The Flood Hazard Identification Program (FHIP) helps communities with long-term planning and damage reduction, by providing detailed information on design flood events.
Local governments use bylaws to regulate land development, which can meet or exceed the standard set by the FHIP guidelines.
Flood hazard studies and mapping have been produced by the Government of Alberta since the 1970s.
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