DCN ARCHIVES

April 4, 2007

Environment

Study on climate change

Its impact on our infrastructure is creating a stir

The federal government is partnering with engineers who are studying roads, buildings and water systems across the country to determine how climate change is affecting the nation’s infrastructure.

“Climate change is already a reality in Canada, particularly in our northern regions,” said Marie Lemay, chief executive officer of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE).

An assessment is being conducted by the CCPE-spearheaded public infrastructure engineering vulnerability committee, which brings together more than 50 engineers, 25 scientists and other specialists.

The committee is working with all levels of government as well as associations with a role in infrastructure.

In a statement issued by Natural Resources Canada, Lemay said the committee will identify and prioritize the most vulnerable types of infrastructure and their condition “leading to adjustments to infrastructure design codes, standards and practices.

“This will enable engineers to use strategies in their designs so that public infrastructure can adapt to the anticipated impacts of climate change.”

The report will focus on four types of infrastructure: water supply systems, buildings, roads and associated structures and storm and wastewater systems.

"Engineering is all about our social, economic and environmental context."

John Gamble

CEO

It will also identify practices that can help make structures more resilient to climate change.

The report is expected to be finished by March 2008.

The federal government is providing $998,400 in funding for the project under its climate change impacts and adaptation program.

The initiative was applauded by John Gamble, president of Consulting Engineers of Ontario.

“I think it’s a very good idea,” Gamble told Daily Commercial News. “Engineering is all about our social, economic and environmental context. The environmental context appears to be changing. And that is going to impact a lot of our fundamental design assumptions.

“We need to have a sense of that (changing) environmental context and what our design assumptions need to be to reflect the new reality.

“We also need to look at some of our existing engineered assets and what we can do to extend their design lives.”

The association last year awarded a scholarship to a graduate student at the University of Guelph to conduct research on the impact of climate change on groundwater resources.

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