Preamble: Light Detection and Ranging (or LIDAR) is an optical remote sensing technology designed to accurately measure the distance to a given target by illuminating it with light, often through the use of laser pulses. Data is collected by mounting a transmitting laser and receiver aboard an aircraft. Each LIDAR data point consists of longitude, latitude, elevation and classification. Once collected, LIDAR Data remains relevant for a period of at least 10 years—before another such collection is necessary.

Benefits of LIDAR

The use of LIDAR Data for three-dimensional topographic mapping provides highly accurate digital elevation models for any landscape. This, in turn, is essential to understanding any area’s hydrology. Since topography determines where water flows, how fast it flows, and how much sediment it will dislodge and carry, the gathering of LIDAR Data is essential to:

  • Accurately predict flood levels
  • Accurately predict water flows, field and stream erosion
  • Accurately map and monitor flood plains
  • Reduce stream bank erosion and flooding
  • Find, map, and restore wetlands
  • Find and map sites for water storage and infiltration
  • Site and install conservation practices that prevent soil erosion 

LIDAR creates digital models that can be used for modelling flood prevention initiatives, water and nutrient management efforts (including drain construction), transportation network construction, urban planning. 

The Manitoba Government currently only uses LIDAR on a small scale. The increased use of LIDAR holds potential to reduce flooding, especially through more sophisticated holistic approaches to watershed management using the types of activities listed above. 

Resolution: That the Manitoba Government commit to greater investment in and use of LIDAR, particularly in the Red River Valley and Assiniboine River basins, and other areas of Manitoba subject to flooding, to assemble an accurate digital model of these areas.

Resolution Report:  

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce produces Resolution reports as part of its commitment to be accountable to its members. The reports are updated as matters unfold and have two components:

MCC Advocacy: Specific activities the MCC has done to help make this Resolution a reality. 

Developments:  All other information (e.g. government action, media coverage, reports) that relates to Resolution. 

Advice, comments, and information sharing are welcome; simply enter a reply at the bottom of this post.

MCC Advocacy: 

May 15, 2011: The 2011-2012 Resolutions were posted on the MCC website, listed as part of a comprehensive Report on AGM 2011 and then notice of this story was circulated through a news release as well as in an MCC E-Update which is sent to all MCC members, Media and Government.

June 22, 2011: Resolution books were sent to every MLA and every Member of Parliament that hails from Manitoba. The following had this Resolution specifically drawn to their attention with a detailed letter setting out the background to this issue, Government initiatives (where applicable), and an argument for the Resolution:

  • The Minister responsible for Emergency Measures
  • The Minister of Water Stewardship
  • The Minister of Conservation

Developments:

August 23, 2011: A Fast Company article entitled “IBM Can Predict Floods And Droughts Days In Advance” touched upon this issue.

It stated, in part, as follows: 

“IBM is testing a new system that–using just weather patterns and detailed maps–can accurately predict 100 hours of future river behavior.” 

To read more click here.

September 1, 2011:  Honourable Bill Blaikie, Minister of Conservation, wrote to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce on this issue.

Here is his response:  

The Honourable Bill Blaikie

In regards to the Resolution for Flood Reduction Using LiDAR, as you may or may not be aware, a new unit, called GeoManitoba, was recently established in Manitoba Conservation. GeoManitoba supports the delivery, acquisition and management of geospatial information for all government departments, as the demands for LiDAR data and other geo-spatial technologies increase within government as a whole. Traditionally, the Department of Water Stewardship acquires LiDAR data and used this technology in hydraulic modeling, flood routing, flood control infrastructure planning and delineation of key watersheds in the province. GeoManitoba has been working closely with departments, Crown corporations and the Federal government to provide a coordination role, to increase collaboration, and to develop new partnerships to acquire geospatial data including LiDAR in Manitoba.

September 13, 2011: A Winnipeg Free Press article entitled “Professor calls for review into flood forecast errors” touched upon this issue. 

It stated, in part, as follows: 

“Jay Doering said there were too many miscalculations involved in the 2011 flood — and he doesn’t know whether the fault lies with human error, Mother Nature, or faulty equipment.

Doering said there were too many instances in which flood forecasting either overestimated or underestimated water flows and river elevations.” 

To read more click here.

October 22, 2011: A Winnipeg Free Press article entitled “McFadyen demands flood-response review” touched upon this issue. 

It stated, in part, as follows: 

“McFadyen said University of Manitoba professor Jay Doering and retired Manitoba flood forecaster Alf Warkentin have publicly criticized the province for poor flood forecasts. McFadyen said the air must be cleared to restore public confidence through an independent review that can call expert testimony and solicit public input.

….

Selinger said provincial officials routinely conduct reviews after natural disasters to see what improvements can be made in disaster response and management and compensation. Those reviews are made public.

He said provisions will be made for public input into the 2011 flood overview report.” 

To read more click here.