The Current - March 2019
The Public Advisory Group publishes this bimonthly newsletter to keep you informed about the Lake Champlain Richelieu River flooding study.
Letter from the study co-Chairs
Thank you for your continued interest in this 5-year study into the causes, impacts, risks and solutions to flooding in the Lake Champlain and Richelieu River basin. The study comprises more than 80 science and policy experts and other professionals from various locales in Canada and the United States, all of whom are focused on advancing potential flood mitigation measures that can make a real difference to basin communities on both sides of the border.
During the public meetings in Quebec, Vermont and New York in November 2018, we promised to report back to you this summer with a more detailed, narrow scope of potential mitigation scenarios. The study team is now working to finalize this information, as well as evaluate the impacts of selected flood mitigation measures on water levels in the lake and river. The study team also will evaluate how climate variations will be incorporated into planning for flood mitigation; review the causes and impacts of the 2011 floods; develop a flood management decision model to help make the ultimate decisions advanced by this study; and seek the input of various stakeholder groups in flood mitigation measures proposed by the study.
The recent United States federal government shutdown, which began in December 2018 and lasted 35 days, has impacted work this winter. For example, several workshops and meetings scheduled in January and February had to be postponed. These include meetings of the study board at which key decisions were to be taken; a technical workshop to discuss potential effects of climate change on mitigation measures; and meetings of the various technical working groups that are necessary to coordinate and advance specific tasks. The study team is working to get back on schedule.
We will continue to keep you informed of study progress as well as changes or long-term impacts on study activities from the recent US shutdown. Thank you and we look forward to seeing many of you in the months ahead!
Keith Robinson, US co-Chair
JF Cantin, Canadian co-Chair
Looking at the human side of flooding
A research team from the University of Montreal is helping the study better understand the social dimension of flooding, including the emotional effects felt during a major flood event such as the one that occurred in 2011. The research data provide an important perspective on the challenges faced in flood-prone regions of the basin by vulnerable populations such as senior citizens, for example, as well as risks to important roads, buildings and services such as health care. The analysis of statistical data, combined with citizen accounts, will allow the study to propose actions to build more resilient communities. More details from this research will be shared in the study’s Causes and Impacts Report, expected to be published later this year.
Land survey helps predict future flood damage
The study is using data collected in a land survey of 1150 houses across 14 Quebec municipalities to predict economic impacts of damage from future floods, and determine how potential mitigation measures could minimize that potential damage. The survey, which took place between October and December 2018, covered 425 square kilometres in the most vulnerable, flood-prone areas of the Richelieu Valley. Surveyors took external measurements of first floor elevations and lowest opening elevations of residences, noting whether the residence had one or two storeys and a basement. Survey data are confidential, and will be used only to guide decisions of the study board related to potential mitigation measures.
Focus on climate change
Later this month, scientists and other professionals will join study experts to discuss the effects of climate change on potential mitigation measures being developed. Look for news from this workshop in the next issue of The Current.
Pete Laflamme, director of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Watershed Management Division, replaced Louis Porter as a US study board member. View all study board members.
New on the Web
Have you seen the new video on Flooding in Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River? We’ve also added a new fact sheet series and the PowerPoint presentation from the November 2018 public meetings. To see these and other products, click Library on the study website.
Did you know that study board meetings and other public events are listed on our website? View these and upcoming public events under Calendar on the home page.
Public participation is an important part of the study process. Want to know how you can be part of the conversation? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.