Theme 4

Risk Analysis of Physical, Socio-Economic, and Environmental Impacts of Floods – Projects

The structural (or physical), environmental, and socio-economic effects of floods are complex and vary greatly depending on their location, duration, depth and speed, as well as the vulnerability of the affected natural (or constructed) area. Flooding is a significant natural hazard that can cause death, damage and loss to property and infrastructure, as well as public disruption. Indeed, floods can cause dangerous landslides, loss of crops and livestock, disruption of normal drainage systems, spillage of raw sewage and rapid flushing of chemicals, industrial and urban toxic materials and nutrients into waterways. However, flooding can also provide some ecosystem services and can bring some benefits that are often overlooked. Benefits include recharging groundwater, enhancing nutrient cycling, increasing fish production, creating wildlife habitat, refilling wetlands, rejuvenating soil fertility, and maintaining recreational areas. As our understanding of the benefits of environmental flooding and provision of ecosystem services improves, there is a need for more information on the environmental consequences of floods, and the balance between mitigating floods and preserving the water flows and levels required to conserve natural ecosystems and enhance environmental and human well-being (Poff et al. 2003). In particular, an improved understanding of the links between ecosystem services and floods is required as well a better understanding of flood effects on agricultural lands, and community water systems. In general, the physical impacts of floods and risk levels have been documented to a greater extent than the environmental and socio-economic aspects. This may explain why the environmental and socio-economic consequences of flooding are usually not incorporated in management policies or in flood impact estimation models. This theme will provide much needed information to improve our understanding of the social, economic and environmental effects of floods.


Professor Marguerite Xenopoulos (Trent University)
Department of Biology


Professor Amin Elshorbagy (University of Saskatchewan)
Department of Civil and Geological Engineering