Quebec floods: How is the province managing all the water?
In total, nearly 150 municipalities across Quebec have been affected by the floods.
As the rain begins to fizzle out, there are questions about how Montreal and Quebec have managed all the water.
“We’re doing the utmost to try and slow down the flow of water coming — and it’s massive,” said Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel. “We’re talking about historic levels of water. We’ve never seen this in over 55 years in Quebec.”
And the numbers show just that.
Environment Canada said Montreal usually sees around 80 millimetres of precipitation in April, but this year, almost double that amount fell on the city.
Meanwhile, in the first eight days of May, 76 millimetres of rain has already fallen — the average for the entire month is 82 mm.
A Concordia University professor and climatologist said the combination of the record rainfall, melting snow, and global warming is what led to the extreme flooding.
But she questions whether the province is properly managing all the water.
“In the early 2000s, a lot of watershed management got delegated down to municipalities, and municipalities just don’t have the expertise — they’re not set up to deal with it,” said Jeannine St-Jacques.
Hydro-Quebec manages numerous dams across the province. They said they’re doing the best they can to hold back the flow.
“We have about 50 centimetres more water on the Lac des Deux Montagnes, so that’s half a metre,” said Hydro-Quebec spokesperson, Serge Abergel. “But I do understand the concerns — can we do more? We’re looking at many ways to hold back as much as we can, that’s what our teams are doing — but this is exceptional.”
Though this exceptional rainfall may be over soon, experts warn that extreme flooding could become more common.
“We have what we call 100-year floods and 1,000-year floods,” said St-Jacques. “It’s the sort of the worst flood you’d expect in 100 years. In a lot of places worldwide, we’re exceeding our 100-year floods, our 1,000-year floods, our 2,000-year floods. As things become more extreme, we will be seeing more.”
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