Delta needs big bucks for flood strategy

It’s safe to say it would be tough for the City of Delta to come up with $650 million to meet its flood management strategy.

At its July 15 meeting, council discussed a staff report which provided an update on the strategy, including current and recent projects which received senior government funding, to upgrade the extensive diking system in the face of sea level rise. The goal by 2050 is to raise the dikes by 0.6 metres to 0.9 metres, a phased project that will take years to complete. The report notes preliminary costs estimates for the first phase works indicate that dike upgrades to 2050 could cost more than $350 million, excluding extensive seismic upgrading. Seismic upgrading could cost an additional $300 million. Meanwhile, dikes statutory rights-of-way that parallel the existing dike will need to be acquired with acquisition costs estimated to be around $10 million.

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“These are only magnitude costs without more detailed geotechnical investigations/dike design work. It is therefore recommended that the City of Delta continues to solicit senior government cost sharing support,” the report adds.

Coun. Dylan Kruger remarked that “a staggering amount of money” will be needed for Delta to address climate change.

Engineering director Hugh Fraser noted that while sea level rise will be gradual over the next few decades, an added challenge for Delta is that the ground is also gradually settling, a combination of factors that require Delta to be prepared.

He said a forum this fall organized by the Fraser Basin Council, and with several levels of government to be in attendance, will be another good opportunity to deliver the message about the need for long-term sustainable funding.

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon earlier this year told the Delta Chamber of Commerce things are happening behind the scenes when it comes to funding for future dike upgrades, but he couldn’t provide details.

Funding what's expected to be a hugely expensive, but ultimately necessary, upgrade of the 67km of dikes and seawalls protecting Delta's residential, commercial and agricultural lands is an issue council wants to see some movement taken on or at least discussed.

Having adopted guidelines that require new homes to be built 4.5 metres above sea level, Delta has already taken a number of measures, as well as taken part in a number of flood studies, while government funding has come in for a few upgrade projects.

Delta's dikes are currently between 3.4 and 4.2 metres, but there are also areas with private dikes at lower elevations.

It is estimated Delta's dikes need to be raised by at least 1.2 metres or more to meet 2100 projected levels. It's suggested a staged dike upgrading approach be implemented, since the projected sea level rise by 2050 is expected to be around .5 metres and a full metre by 2100.

Delta recently received confirmation that its “living dike” application was successful. The pilot project will construct new natural marsh formations in a small section of the foreshore area in East Ladner that could reduce overall wave action and future dike raising needs. The city received $749,000 in additional grant money for the project.

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