Big bucks for flood maps

In preparation for potential flooding this spring, aircraft have begun photographing Okanagan floodplains with aerial imaging.

On Tuesday, the Okanagan Basin Water Board announced it had received $1.45 million from the National Disaster Mitigation Program and B.C. Community Emergency Preparedness Fund to photograph the area using light detection and ranging technology, or LiDAR.

A form of radar, LiDAR creates a three-dimensional map.

“You can tell if something is five inches up or 10 inches down,” said Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the OBWB.

The mapping will show where water will flow and what areas will be prone to flooding.

Shaun Reimer, the man in charge of the Okanagan Lake dam, said the information would have been helpful during last year’s floods.

“It would have helped local governments identify the most vulnerable places. It would have helped to prioritize resources, and I think that would have been very useful,” Reimer said.

In addition to preparing for flooding, Reimer said the mapping can be used for determining areas prone to landslides, as well as for planning after wildfires.

In addition to the funding announcement Tuesday, Corinne Jackson with OBWB says Canada’s National Disaster Mitigation Program is reviewing an additional $2 million in funding for flood mapping and flood risk assessments for local governments in the Okanagan.

A decision on this funding is expected in May.

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