Sunday, September 26, 2010

Threatened Acadian dykes can't wait

Published on September 16th, 2010

It was only a few years ago when the United Nations predicted rising sea levels could have a devastating impact on two areas of the globe, most notably New Orleans and the head of the Bay of Fundy around the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We have already seen what can happen in New Orleans, how long will it be before we find out here?
The dyke and aboiteau at Amherst Point are just one of several pieces of infrastructure protecting fertile marshlands from the Bay of Fundy and it's a situation repeated in communities sitting on the bay in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Considering the power of the water that flows through the bay twice a day it's only a matter of time before these dyke and aboiteaus, many of them constructed decades ago, begin to fail. Fortunately it hasn't happened yet. There has been some flooding, but it's only a matter of time before a major storm -_like a Saxby Gale - leads to the failure of the dykelands and brings about massive flooding wiping out key pieces of infrastructure such as the railway or the highway that runs between the two provinces.
This is not to say the province has been asleep at the switch. It's well aware of what's going on. The problem is finding the money required to bring about a long-term fix. It's something that could cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to fix properly and there's no guarantee the expertise available when the dykes were first built even exists today.
What needs to happen is a co-operative effort among all levels of government, including the federal government, to first find workable solutions and then come up with the money to fix them. This should not become a juridictional issue and it can no longer be a back burner issue because that next major storm may just be over the horizon. We can only hope it's not another New Orleans post-Katrina situation where the damage was done before people started asking questions.
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