Time to rethink approach to floods, speaker says

Osoyoos Times – August 13, 2018

As the frequency of floods increases due to climate change, and the Okanagan has experienced two consecutive years of floods, now is the time to rethink how we manage flooding.

That’s the message that keynote speaker Tamsin Lyle delivered Friday in Kelowna to the annual general meeting of the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

Lyle, a leading B.C. flood engineer, called for a paradigm shift, emphasizing adaptation rather than trying to fight nature.

“We haven’t historically been very good at managing floods,” she told an audience of municipal leaders, planners and others who deal with water management.

Lyle, an engineer, was critical of her own profession’s handling of flood management. She described herself as also being a planner and policy analyst “wannabe,” drawing from other disciplines, and more than just an engineer.

She used illustrations of animals to reflect approaches to flood management – the stubborn bull fighting nature, the ostrich with its head in the sand, and the meerkat, which surveys the situation from above and works collaboratively.

The traditional bull approach has involved building dikes to hold back floodwaters and then building in floodplains.

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