MISSION (NEWS1130) – With the water level rising, these are interesting times for those who study the mighty Fraser River.

News1130 is speaking with an SFU geography professor who’s currently carrying out flood research in the field near Mission.

“The flows are the highest now, and you really have the greatest erosion and deposition in the channel. So, we really are excited about seeing how the river’s working at this time of year,” explains Jeremy Venditti.

He says rivers flood, sometimes several times year, out onto the flood plain. So, is everything being done to minimize the damage?

“One of the things we try to encourage people to do is to stop putting infrastructure on the flood plain or the river. If anything should be done, it’s that,” suggests Venditti.

He says the kinds of flows we’re seeing this year are going to come back again and again. “There’s not really any way that we can engineer the river or change the river to stop them, so we kind of just have to get out of its way.”

When he’s not in the field, Venditti uses a flume channel and scale model of the Fraser back at the lab at SFU. “The channel itself is a metre wide and it’s 15 metres long. We simulate river flows through there and we look at erosion and deposition patterns in sand that’s on the bottom of the channel.”

He explains the way a river floods and it how the water moves over the banks is ultimately controlled by the changes that happen in the river channel.

“We study those changes on the bottom of the river because they ultimately tell us how high water gets during these flood seasons,” he tells us.

Venditti adds a lot of their work goes to modelling exercises done by a variety of government agencies and consulting companies. “They’re the ones who ultimately then advise municipalities and the provincial government on how to hand flood flows.”