Flooding in Sask. & Man.

There have been a lot of reports about the recent heavy rainfall & subsequent flooding in Sask. & Man.

I have great compassion for the people directly affected by the flooding. Flooding is a serious issue. The effects can be devastating. We live on the flood plain of the Beaver River. Flooding is real to us; it is not something we have heard about. Our buildings have never been threatened but our pasture, hay land & animals have been threatened at different times over the years.

Serious flooding appears to be happening more often. Last year it was the Calgary area, the year before it was Manitoba. This year both Sask. & Manitoba are threatened. It is interesting that the response to the flooding is always about sandbagging, digging deeper ditches or higher dikes. As a society we instantly respond to the immediate crisis. We tend to treat the symptom. We never ask the question: what is the cause of the flooding? Since we never ask the question we are never able to examine & deal with the cause.

Treating symptoms seldom produces good results. Identifying & treating causes produces excellent results. As a society we need to stop treating symptoms. We need to think deeper & treat causes. When we do this we will all benefit.

Let’s look at the current flooding. Did the affected areas experience a large rainfall in a short period of time? Definitely. Were there other factors that contributed to the flooding? Definitely.

Let’s look at our current farming practices. The tendency in agriculture today is to cut every tree, drain every slough & have an ineffective water cycle on millions of acres of land. Did these practices have an impact on the flooding? Definitely.

No one talks about the lack of wet lands, drainage or the water cycle as being important in the flooding. I am sure that these issues contribute to the severity of the flooding.

The cost of flooding is huge. Sask. spent $360 million to combat the 2011 flood. The cost of this year’s flood is likely to be even higher. A cost that is often overlooked is the social cost of flooding. It is safe to say that the stress of flooding will lead to some divorces, family break up & even suicide. What is the cost of these social issues?

When you look at the cause of the flooding & the cost of the social issues it is obvious that we can do better.

There has been some talk of paying farmers for ecological goods & services. Perhaps it is time to move this idea forward. Different farming practices where wet lands, trees & an effective water cycle are valued could be promoted. The money spent on flooding could be redirected to promote different farming practices. The result would be more sustainable farms & more security for our urban neighbours.

What are your thoughts? Perhaps now is the time to redirect the efforts of our conservation districts & water authorities. We will all be better served when these organizations begin to deal with the cause of the flooding & not the symptom.

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