Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A tale of two jurisdictions

The vital parts of the expansion of the Red River Floodway are now complete, and none too soon given what next spring could be like. At the Floodway Authority's website there's a very interesting animation posted of how a "700 year" flood might play out in Winnipeg. Now two things stand out about this animation:
  1. If it is accurate, the improvements to the floodway are pretty darned impressive in terms of controlling overland flooding.
  2. The animation with the improvements to the floodway omits any simulation of the effects on sewers.
I checked with someone in the know about this, and was told that for sewer backup, the floodway is of some use but not a whole lot; to deal with this problem you have to improve the sewers. A good start would be to replace combined sewers with separate storm and waste sewers... but that would require the city to actually invest in the future. The city's own website has some info on sewers, complete with a map at the bottom of the page showing where each type of sewage system is used. Ominously, pretty much the whole of the "old" (pre-Unicity) Winnipeg, as well as sizeable chunks of the suburbs, have combined sewers. Hopefully this will be remedied before a 700 year flood strikes; just in case, though, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up a back-up valve...

And if a big flood does strike, I do hope voters know who to be angry with when their basements flood... and to whom to be grateful for the fact that relatively little overland flooding occurs.

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