The province of B.C. is giving $16.6 million in flood protection funding for Richmond, which has been identified as one of the highest-risk areas of the province for flooding caused by climate change.

The money will be used to upgrade four pump stations that push water out in the event of a flood, which could become a problem as sea levels rise a predicted one metre above current levels over coming decades.

John Irving, Richmond's director of engineering, says the money will contribute to what the city has been doing for the past 60 years with their 49 kilometres of dikes and 39 pump stations.

"Many of [the pumps] were built in the 60s and 70s, and that's why we're in a replacement cycle," he told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"As we replace those pump stations we basically build them to meet current building codes. They're more robust, they have higher capacity, they have backup generation power. They're basically much more efficient and effective in removing rainwater and floodwater should that ever occur."

Irving says that contrary to popular belief, the risk of flooding in Richmond is very low. The city is not below sea level, but is in fact a metre above, and he says the pump and dike systems are designed with disaster situations like earthquakes and tsunamis in mind.

"You would have to have that earthquake occur during a high-water event for there to be a real risk," he said. "The combination of those probabilities is extremely remote."

Irving says all the pump stations should be upgraded within the next 10 or 20 years, and plans are in the works to raise the perimeter dikes and construct an inner ring of dikes to further mitigate flooding.

With files from On The Coast


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