Thursday, 18 December 2014
Celeste C Barnes1, James M Byrne1, Ryan J MacDonald1 and Don Lewis2, (1)University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada, (2)NOVUS Environmental, Guelph, ON, Canada
Flooding has the potential to cause significant impacts to economic activities as well as to disrupt or displace populations. Changing climate regimes such as extreme precipitation events increase flood vulnerability and put additional stresses on infrastructure. Potential flooding from just under 100 (2009 NPRI Reviewed Facility Data Release, Environment Canada) toxic tailings ponds located in Canada increase risk to human safety and the environment. One such geotechnical failure spilt billions of litres of toxic tailings into the Fraser River watershed, British Columbia, when a tailings pond dam breach occurred in August 2014. Damaged and washed out roadways cut access to essential services as seen by the extensive floods that occurred in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in July 2014, and in Southern Alberta in 2013. Recovery efforts from events such as these can be lengthy, and have substantial social and economic impacts both in loss of revenue and cost of repair.

The objective of this study is to investigate existing conditions in the Elk River watershed and model potential future hydrological changes that can increase flood risk hazards. By analyzing existing hydrology, meteorology, land cover, land use, economic, and settlement patterns a baseline is established for existing conditions in the Elk River watershed. Coupling the Generate Earth Systems Science (GENESYS) high-resolution spatial hydrometeorological model with flood hazard analysis methodology, high-resolution flood vulnerability base line maps are created using historical climate conditions. Further work in 2015 will examine possible impacts for a range of climate change and land use change scenarios to define changes to future flood risk and vulnerability.