Benefits to Canada

Benefits

From its conception, FloodNet has been driven by its vision to enhance flood forecasting and management capacity in Canada. This vision has received strong support from both our industrial and government partners. The FloodNet research program has been designed to deliver specific outcomes with direct benefits to Canadians. This philosophy also drives the FloodNet research framework. This framework fosters networking to create synergy that stimulates innovation leading to productive research and development.

Outcomes and Benefits

The benefits of new knowledge and technologies for enhanced flood forecasting and management are manifold. Examples of specific outcomes of FloodNet research include:

  1. Manual, guidelines and statistical tools for flood frequency analysis and updating Intensity, Duration and Frequency (IDF) curves in Canada. There is a need for formalized procedures for flood frequency analysis in Canada. Changes in the intensity and frequency of extreme events require an update for engineering design. This outcome is highly needed by municipal engineers. (Theme 1)
  1. New frameworks for optimization of multi-reservoirs operation and ensemble forecasts in flood forecasting. Optimal operation of multiple reservoirs to reduce flooding downstream requires robust optimization techniques. Similarly, ensemble forecast techniques will enhance the reliability of water resource management. These tools are needed for the operation of water supply, hydropower reservoirs and hydrological forecasting. (Theme 2)
  1. Canadian adaptive flood forecasting and early warning system (CAFFEWS). This advanced flood alert system will enhance flood forecasting capacity in Canada with significant benefits for flood mitigation. Embedded technologies, such as the P2P communication system and the real-time spatial information processing algorithms, have potential for spin-off activities, thus leading to high-skill job creation in Canada. (Theme 3)
  1. Integrated flood vulnerability indicators for planning and decision making. Holistic flood vulnerability indicators will include the socio-economic impacts of floods, impacts on agricultural lands and the potential impacts on urban drainage systems. This knowledge will help municipal officials to better plan resilient infrastructure, identify flood risk level for a given area and estimate the cost-benefits of living in a flood prone area. (Theme 4)

Benefits to Canada

The benefits of advanced accurate and reliable flood forecasts, with an appropriate characterization of forecast uncertainty, cannot be overstated. Effective flood forecasts represent the primary information needed for successful flood mitigation, including protecting source water, community/industry water systems, and aquatic ecosystems services, which provide benefits for the well-being and economic prosperity of Canada. The limitations of existing flood forecasting systems have been well documented in inquiry reports and in provincial post flood reviews (e.g., MFRTF, 2013). In the United States, it has been estimated (NHWC, 2002) that the reduction of flood damages resulting from timely and accurate flood forecasts accounts for U.S. $1.62 billion annually. Another U.S. $766 million in annual benefits are expected to result when the advanced hydrologic forecasting system is implemented.

The Canadian Adaptive Flood Forecasting and Early Warning System (CAFFEWS), which will also be an advanced hydrologic forecasting system, can be expected to provide corresponding benefits for Canada. The direct benefits from CAFFEWS in Canadian flood prone regions can be in the order of multiple millions per year arising mainly from reduced property damages and loss of life but also from reductions in social disruption and distress, environmental damages, and interruption of economic activity in affected areas. CAFFEWS will improve upon the current state of the art in advanced flood forecasting systems and will hence provide benefits to the academic research community by improving the design of an effective flood forecasting system.

Better understanding of the impacts of floods on people, society, and the environment can lead to better flood preparedness thus minimizing the impacts of flood events when they invariably do occur.  Research under Theme 4 will, through enhanced knowledge of flood processes and the environmental impacts of floods, better prepare and equip Canadian society:

  1. for the remediation of the negative impacts of floods, such as surface water contamination; and
  2. to take advantage of any positive impacts of flood events, such as increased ecosystem biodiversity, by providing opportunities for proactive operation of flood control infrastructure to enhance ecosystem response.

Invaluable extended benefits that can be achieved with the implementation of the results from FloodNet include the opportunity to save lives, reduce human distress, and protect human health, water systems and the environment.

Benefits to Partners

Improved flood management can be expected to occur with more accurate and reliable estimates of the probability of occurrence of extreme events, as will result from the frequency analysis conducted as part of Theme 1.  This information is essential for the design of a variety of hydraulic infrastructure, including urban infrastructure.  Economic and societal benefits will be realized when better estimates for design event magnitudes are available as this avoids either over- or under-design of infrastructure, which can lead to unnecessary capital expenditures or increased property losses and loss of life, respectively.  Hence, the FloodNet partners involved in the design of urban infrastructure (e.g., municipalities and conservations authorities) can be expected to achieve considerable benefits from the enhanced frequency analysis techniques developed in this research. These benefits will start to accrue at the time of implementation of the new design quantile estimation procedures and will continue into the future as partner organizations are able to better design hydraulic and urban infrastructure for the expected extreme conditions.  Updated design procedures will lead to improved municipal development policies in flood prone areas and better management of flooding conditions.  

The high cost ($1.2 billion) of the 2011 Manitoba Flood could have been substantially reduced if an effective flood forecast model had been available (MFRTF, 2013).  Thus our partners who are involved in flood forecasting activities can expect to realize substantial economic benefits from the results of the research leading to the development and implementation of the Canadian Adaptive Flood Forecasting and Early Warning System (CAFFEWS).  Benefits, in the form of reduced flood damages, can be expected to start to occur at the time that a hydrological forecasting centre (HFC) implements CAFFEWS. The benefits from implementing CAFFEWS will be particularly prevalent at the time of the next major flood event within the forecasting area for an HFC.  Hence, for some HFCs, the substantial benefits could occur very quickly while for other HFCs in some areas while for others, the greatest benefits may occur further into the future.  Given that for most of Canada, flood events are inevitable, it is also inevitable that benefits from improved flood forecasts will eventually accrue to affected areas.