Flood/drought papers An Assessment of Flood Risk Management in Canada
Slobodan P. Simonovic
January 2003 ICLR Research Paper Series – No. 28
Canada has developed a worldwide reputation for its flood management programs. Despite this recognition, flood damages continue to rise. This paper provides some insight into the current practice of flood management in Canada and offers recommendations to address shortcomings.
Following an introductory chapter, the nature of floods and flood damages are described. The third chapter describes the Flood Damage Reduction Program with a particular focus on floodplain regulation. Efforts to distribute losses through disaster relief and insurance are outlined in the fourth chapter. The fifth chapter describes two recent floods in the Saguenay Valley and the Red River. Comments concerning the implications are provided in the last chapter.
There is no doubt that over the last 50 years Canadian flood managers have made tremendous progress in reducing the flood risks. However, the trend of increasing flood damages suggests that additional efforts are required. The research opportunities outlined provide a basis for future projects that could reduce future losses. The nature of flooding, the impacts from floods, assessment of flood programs and policies, and better understanding human behaviour during and after floods are important areas for future research. At a practical level, past experience suggests that a lack of commitment by some or all levels of governments has been associated with the implementation of programs. Recent floods have demonstrated the follies of this shortcoming. In addition, future programs will have to better involve municipal governments that have been often overlooked in the formulation of past programs. Important areas to consider for policy development pertain to the use of decision support systems, and improving flood response and recovery programs. These programs will also have to rely on collaborations with the private sector, particularly the insurance industry, which has a vested interest in reducing damage levels. Finally, reducing flood risks will require greater personal acceptance of responsibility by those living in floodplains.