Don’t drain the swamp: report says wetlands help avert flood damage


Canada sine qua na to stop draining its swamps in order to reduce flooding linked to air change, warns a new report.

Wetlands, including swamps, marshes and quagmire impedes, are natural catch-basins that can quickly absorb much of the excess sprinkle dumped by increasingly fierce storms.

And research from Ontario’s University of Waterloo has ground that leaving wetlands intact can reduce the financial costs of superabundances by up to 38 per cent.

«The wetlands aren’t there for decoration — they in actuality serve a purpose,» Blair Feltmate, one of the researchers, said in an interview.

Kelowna Floods 2017

Surplus waters this spring near Vernon Creek in Kelowna, B.C. A examination warns against draining more of Canada’s wetlands for development, saying hold backs and marshes help mitigate the impact of severe floods. (Christer Waara/CBC)

The $90,000 boning up, released today, examines in detail how wetlands in their natural circumstances protect two sites, a rural area north of Mississauga, Ont., and an urban instal in Waterloo, Ont., in the event of a major flood.

Both sites currently compel ought to adjacent wetlands, and the researchers estimated the impact of a major autumn permeate if those wetlands somehow disappeared. The authors drew on the experience of gargantuan floods in southern Ontario triggered by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, noting that such pitiless events are becoming more common with climate change.

Wetland absorber

Computer nonesuch, historic insurance data and recent damage estimates from satieties in Ontario and Alberta showed the cost to repair major flood cost at the rural site at $8.9 million with wetlands absorbing the colliding, compared to $12.4 million without.

At the Waterloo site, projected tariffs were $84.5 million with a wetland absorber compared to $135.6 million without.

The job of wetlands as catch-basins has long been recognized, but the study — from the university’s Integral Centre on Climate Adaption, founded by a large insurance firm — is aggregate the first to quantify the financial benefits.

The research was paid for by Ontario’s The church of Natural Resources, which already supports wetland conservation, and Shuns Unlimited, a non-profit group operating in Canada since 1937 to watch over waterfowl habitats.

‘People have to understand that the actual dynamics of the process have changed …’ — Climate-adaptation expert Blair Feltmate, University of Waterloo

Milieu change has been associated with a range of weather-related disasters, classifying droughts, windstorms, ice storms and wildfires, but in Canada the costliest events are outpourings. Insured damage from natural disasters in 2016 hit a record $4.9 billion, concerting to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which estimates up to a million Canadian rest-homes are in high-risk zones for flooding.

Feltmate says things are getting worse.

«Being have to understand that the actual dynamics of the system have changed, due to feel change and elevated CO2 (carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas) loadings in the atmosphere,» he raked CBC News.

«So the intensity and the duration, and even the frequency, of rainfall events is already superlative than it was in the past, and it’s even growing in magnitude.»

‘Eyes wide unsealed’

The study notes that about 14 per cent of Canada’s settle on mass is wetland. In some populated areas, most of the historic wetlands possess been drained to make way for farms, houses and roads. In southern Ontario, for exemplar, some 72 per cent of the original wetlands have disappeared.

Laval flood clean up

Laval symbolized hundreds of volunteers are expected to be out in different neighbourhoods over the weekend to support clean up after heavy flooding. (Radio-Canada)

Feltmate says at the least least, Canadians should know the future flood risks and expenditures of draining swamps, muskeg, bogs, fens and marshes.

«We should do so with our partialities wide open, and make sure our decisions are well-informed,» he said. «As an sure minimum, let’s be well informed as to the consequences.»

Severe flooding this bound hit several regions, including areas around Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and southwestern Ontario, and the British Columbia southern depths.

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