Indicators Point Toward Worse Great Lakes Flooding than 2017

Citizens in Niagara rally to save what is left of our wetlands in Niagara. File photo by Doug Draper

“What doesn’t help is the fact that people are building close to rivers and lakes. …  You remove wetlands and pave over other areas so with heavy rainfall, the water has to go somewhere else.” – Brock University Professor of Biology and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur

“We need to start bringing more of the natural components that can help with these storms like recreating wetlands and marshes.” – Liette Vasseur

News from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted May 2nd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Record-high lake levels led to devastating flood damage in Great Lakes coastal communities in 2017, but in the two years since, little has changed.

Provincially significant wetlands in Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario where foreign investors are now looking to build a sprawling community. Citizen campaigns to save the area from development continue.

Brock University Professor of Biology and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur said those communities are in for serious flooding this year and this may coming from frequently.

And she says despite knowing it was coming, our complacency as a society has meant that we’re not only ill-prepared, but we’ve made things worse on ourselves.

“The pragmatism people have is that it’s all about today. Nobody thinks about the future,” she said. “We knew this was going to happen. All the signs were there.”

Vasseur is an internationally recognized expert in the field of coastal flooding and climate change adaptation and is currently leading a research project examining the impacts of the 2017 flooding and what could have been done to change the outcomes.

She’s been carefully watching the rising lake levels and said Lake Erie, for example, hit a record high in late April.

Much of Lakeside Park area along Port Dalhousie Harbour and Lake Ontario is under water from flooding waters in spring of 2017. file photo by Doug Draper

Vasseur said the explanation can be found in a number of areas such as the control level plan for the Great Lakes and heavy snowfall and spring rainfall for some regions, but she said the decisions of municipalities and residents are having a major impact.

“There are climate drivers, but what doesn’t help is the fact that people are building close to rivers and lakes,” she said. “These are dynamic systems. The human component is very important. You remove wetlands and pave over other areas so with heavy rainfall, the water has to go somewhere else.”

Vasseur said even after the devastating floods two years ago, municipalities have continued to allow projects to be built in these sensitive areas.

“It’s quite obvious to me that we didn’t learn the lessons,” she said.

Vasseur’s recommendation is for residents living near coastlines to invest in waterproofing measures, and for municipalities to start creating buffer zones along rivers and lakes. Adaptation measures are badly needed. For some, it may even be to move from their residence, she said.

While those steps won’t stop the effects of climate change, they will at least help to lessen the impact on communities and infrastructure.

“We need to start bringing more of the natural components that can help with these storms like recreating wetlands and marshes,” she said.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

 A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at http://www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.