Saskatoon

City of Saskatoon planning for floods, droughts as weather becomes more severe from climate change

A report headed to councillors next week ranks some of the greatest risks to the city as the climate becomes 'warmer, wetter and wilder.'

City Hall study looked at how global warming will effect everything from flooding to parks

The City of Saskatoon has created a list of risks associated with climate change, including an increased risk of heavy rains that can overwhelm the stormwater system. (Submitted by Jennifer Kerr)

The City of Saskatoon says climate change could create big problems for city operations in the future.

A report headed to councillors next week ranks some of the greatest risks to the city as the climate becomes "warmer, wetter and wilder."

"We're basically reviewing climate data and climate information and projections that have been prepared at a national level," said Jeanna South, the city's director of sustainability.  

"It's important for us to get to better understand the the possible impacts that we might see."

By the year 2100, under the worst case scenario, Saskatoon could be seeing a nearly 7 degree increase in average yearly temperature, as well as a 24 per cent increase in precipitation between March and June. As a result, the city is bracing for serious issues in the future.

"The top five (risks), for example, really relate to impacting demand on water and wastewater utility delivery systems," said South.

"We will see increased heat stress possibly on plants and the urban forest and there would likely be increased demand on the power of utility and delivery system because we'd see very highly variable and extreme conditions." 

The city ran risk assessment workshops with staff from storm water management, parks and emergency management and preparedness and ranked the issues based on cost to the city and how major the interruption services could be.

The report said the city is already seeing the effects of climate change. Since 2002, pay outs from the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program have spiked from $10.4 million to more than $157 million. In 2010, Saskatoon received $4.5 million from the program just to cover flooding damage.

For South, it shows the importance of cutting emissions as soon as possible.

"Even in the scenarios that we're looking at when we project to 2100, we'll still see some impacts from climate change even under very high emission reductions," she said.

"We want to make sure that we're planning for that and being proactive."

The city had previously committed to reduce corporate emissions by 40 percent by 2023, along with a 15 per cent community reduction by that same time.

Administration will be releasing a second study in June that will talk about solutions the City can take, along with associated costs.

The current report will be presented at Saskatoon's Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services committee on Monday.

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