Posted by Cheryl Thomas

Dave Murray is a Professional Engineer and past national president of the Canadian Water Resources Association that specializes in coastal and river flood protection and natural restoration projects.  He addressed the club on the effects of climate change on flooding, and how we need to adapt.  

For 28 years he has observed human nature related to flooding that leads from panic after a flood to awareness and occasionally to action – at least until the next election!  Communities around the world are now waking up to climate change and the resulting predictions of sea level rise. Dave is assisting communities to determine the impacts of sea level rise and determine how they can adapt in advance of sea level rise.ave showed several interesting slides, including one showing the population of Venice - 130,000 in 1540; 180,000 in 1950; 55,000 today, partly because of rising sea levels.

People love to live by the sea; but, we do need to remember Thailand in 2004.  The height of that tsunami was similar to what we get in Victoria with a storm surge.

Causes?  Global warning which is causing rising seas by melting ice caps (50%), rising sea temperatures which causes the water to expand (40%) and other causes (10%).  Increased rain is not raising sea levels but more violent rainstorms with storm surge at high tide are already causing problems.  They are expected a 1 meter rise.  Add that to the storm surge and wave effect and Victoria will see houses being wiped out by 2100.  Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast already have high tide problems.  Oak Bay is apt to lose land and houses in Windsor Park, MacNeill Bay and Cadboro Bay. Sidney will also see significant losses.

Choices?  Stick with the status quo; protect what we have close to the sea; accommodate the rising seas with construction on stilts and no electrical on the bottom floor; retreat (move away from the seashore); or, avoid building on flood plains altogether.

The Ladner Dike is having storm surge challenges and with rising waters, it will be breached and there will be flooding.  He suggests a barrier with a gate in Steveston; and, bringing in sand to replace land that is lost.  Dallas Road needs the reef built up.

Dave would like governments to buy people out and avoid building on the flood plains.  If property is on the flood plain, it should be on title.  At this point, governments are backing away from this (eg. Calgary after the big flood said owners in the flood plain couldn't re-build but then backed off).  Other options are extensive and expensive infrastructure like the Netherlands or artificial reefs like Virginia.  

But, with climate change, it IS happening and it can't be ignored.

Colin Smith thanked Dave and called him the Bluff Meister of Dallas Road.