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

Ask a Question

If you have a specific question related to flood protection, please ask here. 

We will post our response here as soon as possible. 

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  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Have insurance companies been asked if the proposed flood protection upgrades will be sufficient for them to consider how they regard the risk in Richmond (so our premiums go down...)

    Jemima asked 9 days ago

    Thanks for your question. We have started conversations with the industry and are pursuing further outreach with the Insurance Bureau of Canada to share the City's information, with the objective of influencing their conventional risk assessment methodologies.

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    Is there protection in place in case of the Big One

    Katie asked 19 days ago

    Thanks for your question. The City's dikes should provide adequate protection following a major earthquake until permanent repairs can be completed. All dikes are planned and designed with guidance from the City's Flood Protection Management Strategy, Dike Master Plan and Engineers and Geoscientists BC's Professional Practice Guidelines on seismic assessment and design. This City is also exploring new technologies, such as unique soil strengthening processes, to further increase seismic resiliency and improve cost and construction efficiency. 

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    A follow-up question re: pumping capacity. As the 39 pump stations were fully active during the atmospheric river in November 2021, do you have an estimate of how many cubic meters of rain per second were deposited across Richmond at this time, and Richmond's "capacity" to take water without exhibiting significant flooding? Can you also comment whether such pump stations are sheltered against flood events and also have sufficient backup power to operate in the event of a power outage at such a time? Thank you.

    Sacha asked about 1 month ago

    Hi there, during the November Atmospheric River, over 130 mm of rain fell on Richmond over a three day period. In addition, many of our pump stations are outfitted with generators to ensure reliability and efficiency across the drainage network. 

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    During the "atmospheric river" rainfalls back in November 2021, what estimated percentage of Richmond's pumping capacity was utilized?

    Sacha asked about 1 month ago

    At the peak of the November storms, each of the City’s 39 pump stations were moving water at or near full capacity at some point during the event. 

    The capacity of these pump stations has increased 29 percent since 2005, and they now have a combined discharge rate of approximately 90 cubic metres per second (1.4 million US gallons per minute) – the equivalent of over two Olympic swimming pools every 60 seconds.

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    As sea level rises, will not the water table rise as well? It is already very high. Will this cause flooding even if the dikes are high enough?

    johnr asked about 1 month ago

    Thank you for your comment. The groundwater in Richmond varies with the tide and is expected to increase with sea level rise. As included in the City's Flood Protection Management Strategy, land raising over the long-term is an effective way to mitigate this effect when undertaken using best practices. 

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    There is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level for at least one of the next five years – and the likelihood is increasing with time, according to a new climate update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Hope you are using this new info in your 50 year infrastructure program.

    ronaldo asked about 2 months ago

    Hi there! That update is certainly interesting. Should any changes from current sea level rise projections occur, the City has the capability and flexibility to further accelerate our flood protection program if necessary. 

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    Are there plans to create bike lanes on the roads adjacent to the dykes? If the roads are not wide enough for bike lanes going in both directions, could speed bumps please be added to the roadways?

    Robina asked about 2 months ago

    The City is looking to implement bike lanes through dike upgrades, where possible. 

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    I'm pleased to hear that the timeline to complete dyke raising around Richmond has been accelerated but I believe global warming and sea-level rise are happening faster than we realize. We may need to accelerate dyke upgrades over the next 35 years. Fifty years may be too late!

    John L. Young asked about 2 months ago

    Thank you for your comment! The 50 year implementation program ensures the City has the capability and flexibility to further accelerate the program should the rate of sea level rise increase from current projections.

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    Why does the detailed map show only a portion of the Airport as having a dike near Burkville? As the oceans rise has the calculate height of the new dike taken into account the increased height of waves generated with storm surges (combined with king tides) ?

    KenS asked about 2 months ago

    Hi there! The City is responsible for the identified portion of dike on Sea Island, the rest of the dike circling that island is owned and maintained by YVR. The City regularly meets with staff at YVR to ensure that our flood protection plans and strategies are aligned. In addition, a 4.7 m dike includes 0.6 m of freeboard above and beyond sea level rise and land subsidence considerations. 

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    Urgently need more washrooms along the west dyke. At Steveston Hwy or Williams.

    prichi asked about 2 months ago

    Thank you for your comment! The City will take this into consideration when designing future dike and pump station upgrades.

Page last updated: 20 Jun 2022, 10:06 AM