Higher stan­dards needed to quell storm dam­age

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial -

This week’s flood­ing on Cape Bre­ton Is­land ex­posed de­fi­cien­cies in Nova Sco­tia’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment (DOE) that leaves tax­pay­ers on the hook for the mil­lions of dol­lars in re­pair bills.

Ac­cord­ing to the Nova Sco­tia Water­course Stan­dards Guide Lines (avail­able on­line), cul­verts and bridges should be built to with­stand what has been de­scribed a hun­dred year storm.

We haven’t had a hun­dred year storm but ma­jor storm dam­age con­tin­ues to hap­pen prov­ince wide and of which po­lit­i­cal party is in power.

It amazes me that com­mon sense is not be­ing used. You can watch crews re­place a cul­vert that was washed out with the same sized pipe even though a larger one is needed to han­dle the flow.

Per­haps there is a huge de­fi­ciency in train­ing and ex­per­tise when the DOE is un­able to cal­cu­late the proper size, place­ment, etc., of these struc­tures to with­stand a hun­dred year storm. Clearly more post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion is needed. En­gi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gists or hy­drol­o­gists are the only qual­i­fied peo­ple able to do the com­pli­cated cal­cu­la­tions and de­sign of these struc­tures. In­stead, the prov­ince pro­motes a three-to-five day course that it helped de­sign.

The weather is not the prob­lem. It is the ap­proved struc­tures’ in­abil­ity to han­dle the flows. Why is there no ac­count­abil­ity when de­bris that builds up at cul­verts and bridges and beaver dams is not re­moved? Drive up to Mid­dle River at the Gold Brook bridge to see this am­ply demon­strated. Is there no com­mon sense that tells them on-go­ing main­te­nance is re­quired? The old adage “A stitch in time saves nine” is still true to­day.

As tax­pay­ers we must get this mes­sage across loud and clear. It’s about time we stopped meekly ac­cept­ing their ex­cuse that the weather is the prob­lem.

Lil­lian MacLeod Bad­deck

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