Flood Protection at the City of Richmond

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An Island City

The City of Richmond is made up of islands within the floodplain of the Fraser River, where the river flows into the Salish Sea. At an average of 1 metre (3 feet) above sea level, Richmond faces flood hazards from sea level rise, coastal storm surges, snowmelt flooding and extreme weather events. Therefore, flood protection is incredibly important.

To ensure Richmond remains safe, the City has one of the most comprehensive flood protection systems in British Columbia.

What’s Keeping Richmond Safe?

The guiding framework to upgrade and improve flood protection across the City in advance of sea level rise and other climate driven flood hazards are the City's Flood Protection Management Strategy and Dike Master Plan.

Our flood protection system is designed to withstand high water events such as spring freshet and king tides. It can also handle a 1:500 flooding event – a major flood that has a 0.2% chance of happening in any given year


Current flood protection infrastructure includes:


Dikes: 49 kilometres of dikes that hold back the waters of the sea and river



Drainage pipes: 585 kilometres of drainage pipes that transport water out of the city



Culverts: 61 kilometres of culverts and tunnels that carry streams and act as rainwater storage



Channelized watercourses: 165 kilometres of man-made channels that move water through and out of the city



Pumps: 39 drainage pump stations that pump rain and groundwater into the Fraser River



Sensors: Numerous flood protection sensors spread throughout Richmond that provide real-time data on river levels, rainfall and stormwater drainage.


Planning for Change

Sea level is rising with global warming, and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and sever. These changes are increasing Richmond's exposure to coastal, river and rainfall flood hazards.

The City of Richmond recognizes that even with global climate change mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are predictions of environmental changes that will occur even if global emissions are dramatically reduced. This includes 1 metre of sea level rise and increased rainfall for all coastal communities.

To ensure Richmond remains safe, the City is continuously upgrading flood protection measures.

A lifetime of sea level rise. The graphic above shows how a person born today can expect around 50 centimetres of sea level rise by the time they are 30, and around 1 metre of sea level rise by the time they are 80. The lighter blue line shows a higher range of sea level rise that could occur if global carbon pollution targets are not met.

Sea Level Rise

With climate change, warmer temperatures melt glaciers and ice caps, and increase the temperature of the ocean, which causes the water to expand. As a result, global sea levels are rising. Sea level rise increases flood risks posed by king tides and coastal storm surges.

The Province of British Columbia advises municipalities to plan for 1 metre of sea level rise by 2100. During this same period, land in Richmond is expected to subside by 0.2 metres.

Increased Rainfall

Over the past 20 years, the average intensity of rainfall events in Richmond has increased by approximately 15%. With climate change, this trend is expected to continue. Powerful rainfall events can intensify coastal storm surges and river flood hazards due to the increased river flow.

How Richmond is Preparing

Flood Protection Management Strategy

A key action identified in the City's Flood Protection Management Strategy involves continuing to upgrade the City's perimeter dike in anticipation of climate change induced sea level rise.

Dike Master Plan

The City’s Dikes Master Plan outlines the process to upgrade the City’s dike in advance of sea level rise and other climate change-driven flood hazards and has been divided into the following phases:


Speeding Up Dike Raising

The dikes will be raised from 3.5 metres in elevation to 4.7 metres in elevation, to stay ahead of sea level rise. Richmond City Council recently endorsed accelerating the timeline of this work to 50 years to improve diking infrastructure in advanced of current anticipated climate change impacts.

Dike raising not only provides better flood protection but can also improve wildlife habitat and recreation, including:

  • Access to the shoreline
  • Transportation, public space, parks and community facilities and amenities
  • Environmental and habitat features for birds, animals and fish

Use the Map Tool below to place amenities along the dike that you would like to see prioritized with dike upgrades. Alternatively, if you have a specific question related to flood protection, please ask us below.

Upgraded south dike near Gilbert Road


An Island City

The City of Richmond is made up of islands within the floodplain of the Fraser River, where the river flows into the Salish Sea. At an average of 1 metre (3 feet) above sea level, Richmond faces flood hazards from sea level rise, coastal storm surges, snowmelt flooding and extreme weather events. Therefore, flood protection is incredibly important.

To ensure Richmond remains safe, the City has one of the most comprehensive flood protection systems in British Columbia.

What’s Keeping Richmond Safe?

The guiding framework to upgrade and improve flood protection across the City in advance of sea level rise and other climate driven flood hazards are the City's Flood Protection Management Strategy and Dike Master Plan.

Our flood protection system is designed to withstand high water events such as spring freshet and king tides. It can also handle a 1:500 flooding event – a major flood that has a 0.2% chance of happening in any given year


Current flood protection infrastructure includes:


Dikes: 49 kilometres of dikes that hold back the waters of the sea and river



Drainage pipes: 585 kilometres of drainage pipes that transport water out of the city



Culverts: 61 kilometres of culverts and tunnels that carry streams and act as rainwater storage



Channelized watercourses: 165 kilometres of man-made channels that move water through and out of the city



Pumps: 39 drainage pump stations that pump rain and groundwater into the Fraser River



Sensors: Numerous flood protection sensors spread throughout Richmond that provide real-time data on river levels, rainfall and stormwater drainage.


Planning for Change

Sea level is rising with global warming, and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and sever. These changes are increasing Richmond's exposure to coastal, river and rainfall flood hazards.

The City of Richmond recognizes that even with global climate change mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are predictions of environmental changes that will occur even if global emissions are dramatically reduced. This includes 1 metre of sea level rise and increased rainfall for all coastal communities.

To ensure Richmond remains safe, the City is continuously upgrading flood protection measures.

A lifetime of sea level rise. The graphic above shows how a person born today can expect around 50 centimetres of sea level rise by the time they are 30, and around 1 metre of sea level rise by the time they are 80. The lighter blue line shows a higher range of sea level rise that could occur if global carbon pollution targets are not met.

Sea Level Rise

With climate change, warmer temperatures melt glaciers and ice caps, and increase the temperature of the ocean, which causes the water to expand. As a result, global sea levels are rising. Sea level rise increases flood risks posed by king tides and coastal storm surges.

The Province of British Columbia advises municipalities to plan for 1 metre of sea level rise by 2100. During this same period, land in Richmond is expected to subside by 0.2 metres.

Increased Rainfall

Over the past 20 years, the average intensity of rainfall events in Richmond has increased by approximately 15%. With climate change, this trend is expected to continue. Powerful rainfall events can intensify coastal storm surges and river flood hazards due to the increased river flow.

How Richmond is Preparing

Flood Protection Management Strategy

A key action identified in the City's Flood Protection Management Strategy involves continuing to upgrade the City's perimeter dike in anticipation of climate change induced sea level rise.

Dike Master Plan

The City’s Dikes Master Plan outlines the process to upgrade the City’s dike in advance of sea level rise and other climate change-driven flood hazards and has been divided into the following phases:


Speeding Up Dike Raising

The dikes will be raised from 3.5 metres in elevation to 4.7 metres in elevation, to stay ahead of sea level rise. Richmond City Council recently endorsed accelerating the timeline of this work to 50 years to improve diking infrastructure in advanced of current anticipated climate change impacts.

Dike raising not only provides better flood protection but can also improve wildlife habitat and recreation, including:

  • Access to the shoreline
  • Transportation, public space, parks and community facilities and amenities
  • Environmental and habitat features for birds, animals and fish

Use the Map Tool below to place amenities along the dike that you would like to see prioritized with dike upgrades. Alternatively, if you have a specific question related to flood protection, please ask us below.

Upgraded south dike near Gilbert Road
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Map tool

17 days

Using the "+" on the left, place a pin to identify amenities that you would like to see prioritized during dike upgrades. In the comment, tell us why you chose this location.

Page last updated: 22 May 2022, 02:47 AM