The City of Richmond and its funding partners have spent $45 million since 2008 on flood protection measurements and an additional $50 million investment over the next five years is being recommended.
“Richmond has one of the most comprehensive and effective networks of diking and drainage networks in Canada,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “We are constantly investing in improvements to make our flood protection measures even better and to address long-term concerns from global warming and sea level rise. This ensures our city is well protected from any immediate or potential flooding threats.”
An update on Richmond’s flood protection efforts was presented to Richmond Council on July 28.
Contrary to popular belief, most of Richmond’s land area is actually above sea level. The natural average elevation of Richmond is one metre above mean sea level. Many areas of the city have been raised out of the flood plain through land development related land improvements.
Richmond also faces minimal threat of flooding from a tsunami or high spring runoff on the Fraser River. Vancouver Island effectively provides a breakwater that protects Richmond from most threats from a tsunami. Extensive independent research conducted in 2005 showed the Fraser River Delta has not been significantly impacted by a tsunami for more than 4,000 years. Similarly, Richmond’s dikes are built well above the highest recorded water levels as a result of spring runoff on the Fraser River, which occurred in 1894.
However, due to its position at the mouth of the Fraser River Estuary and edge of the Georgia Strait, Richmond would be prone to flooding without protective measures. In addition, latest estimates are than Richmond can expect a 0.2 metre rise in sea level over the next 50 years and a further 0.8 metre rise over the subsequent 50 years, totalling 1.0 metre over the next 100 years.
To protect public and private property improvements valued at more than $63 billion, the city has invested heavily to build a flood protection system that includes 49 km. of dikes, 622 km. of drainage pipes, 178 km. of ditches, and 41 drainage pumping stations.
Over the past five years, 4.4 km. of dikes have been or are scheduled to be raised to between 4.0 and 4.7 metres above average sea level, which exceeds current provincial requirements. Also, 10 drainage pump stations have been rebuilt to improve capacity. The city secured external funding of $9.6 million to help offset its investment in these projects, and will spend another $9.9 million on drainage and diking improvements throughout 2014.