A team at the University of Saskatchewan has been working with international researchers on a global investigation to better protect the world from floods and droughts.

Dr. Saman Razavi, associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s school of environment and sustainability said we’ve been reliant on the past to try and determine what will happen in the future.

“Both the frequency and magnitude of floods and draught have been increasing globally. Of course Canada is no exception; we are basically at the forefront of climate change impacts, and have been warming double the global average,” said Razavi.

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He noted that Canada needs to be more prepared for extreme weather, saying that we need to be better at predicting unprecedented events.

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This investigation looked over 45 case studies around the world, and found that when two floods hit the same region at different points in time, the second event usually resulted in worse effects, even with preventative measures put in place.

“This counterintuitive conclusion is primarily the case when the second event is more hazardous or unprecedented than the first one — a reality of the world, and particularly in Canada under global warming and changing climate,” said Razavi.

He added that this paper is not only to help predictions on future floods and droughts, but also to inform the public, and help influence water policies based on the best available knowledge.

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Saskatoon recently saw some significant flooding on June 20, but the city has been working on a flood control strategy since 2019, constructing nine projects before the end of 2027 to help mitigate flooding in the municipality.

Mitch McMann is the City of Saskatoon’s stormwater utility manager for the Saskatoon water department, and said the June 20 flood ranged between a one-in-five-year and a one-in-25-year storm.

He added that one dry pond has been completed, another is currently under construction, and a third begins construction in 2023.

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“The remaining projects are still in the feasibility stage, so the locations can be found on our webpage, but it’s too early to talk about specifics for those locations,” said McMann.

He noted that these projects won’t completely mitigate all flooding in the area, but should improve things across the city.

“These projects won’t be the end all for flooding, but they will be a major improvement for these locations.”

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