By Haley Grinder
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is in the fieldwork stages of its Regional Flood and Steep Creek Risk Prioritization Project. BGC Engineering was in charge of consultations, conducting site visits between Nov. 1 and Nov. 3.

Due to the uncertain and everchanging weather patterns caused by climate change, increasing precipitation patterns have impacted the frequency and magnitude of flooding. Fiona Dercole, RDEK Protective Services Manager says, “this project will modernize our understanding of flood and steep creek risks across the region and inform the region’s Hazard, Risk and Vulnerability Analysis, which forms the foundation of the East Kootenay Emergency Management Plan.”

The site visits in the Columbia Valley focused on areas where steep creeks had the highest potential to produce debris flooding. This was determined based on past events, along with terrain mapping tools and a terrain review using LiDAR.

“The geotechnical engineering qualified professionals that conducted the site visits were looking primarily at the sediment discharged by the creeks and at the character of the creeks to determine if the creeks had potential to generate debris and/or sediment versus clear water flooding,” explains Dercole. “As these generally have more destructive potential than clear water flooding.”

The goal is to update the team’s current data, as well as prioritize areas for further assessment and/or mitigation planning. Dercole says they also wish to raise the community’s awareness of flooding and steep hazards within the region.

The project is funded by the National Disaster Mitigation Program, which encompasses the RDEK’s member municipalities, along with the First Nations within the East Kootenay. Once the data collected from the site visits is analyzed, a report will be put together that will be available to the community in late spring of 2022.

“Community members should be aware of the hazards at their own property level, monitor weather conditions particularly during spring freshet season, register for the Evacuation Notification System and have a family emergency plan,” says Dercole. “If community members have experienced flooding in the past, we would like to hear from them.”