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Nelson receives climate change research grant from European institute

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
September 27th, 2013

The City of Nelson will be partnering with a major European climate change research institute and receiving money from it to conduct research here.

A $23,000 grant from the Austrian institute known as alpS, based at the University of Innsbruck, will contribute to research in Nelson on how to deal with increased run-off into the downtown during major rainstorms. AlpS specializes in the effects of climate change in mountain communities.

The connection came through local scientist and climate consultant Dr. Mel Reasoner. He and Hans Stotter, the chief scientist at alpS, have been friends since the 1990s.

“We were visiting recently,” Reasoner told The Nelson Daily, “and he let me know that they were interested in working internationally with mountain communities. They have worked with over 400 communities in the Alps. They made an offer to fund research into the effects of climate change here.”

All Nelson has to do in exchange, Reasoner explained, is share the results of its research with alpS.

Reasoner approached Councillor Deb Kozak about the offer, who took it to city council this past summer. Council agreed to the collaboration. Then alpS made an offer of $23,000, to add to $20,000 already ear-marked for the study of stormwater here.

Half of that $20,000 has come from the Columbia Basin Trust’s Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative, and the remaining $10,000 was contributed by the city.

It has become clear in the past few years that Nelson’s storm drains cannot handle flash floods. In several storms, torrents of water have rushed down Nelson’s steep streets into the downtown and into low-lying areas such as the intersection of Front and Hall Streets. Storm water has flowed out of manholes, created sinkholes, and flooded basements.

The total of $43,000, says Reasoner, “will be used to fund research on how Nelson can resolve its storm water problem, in the face of increasingly severe precipitation events. AlpS is a significant institute with 70 fill-time academic staff with a wide diversity of experience and knowledge, and now basically they are a phone call away.

“The city of Nelson and the engineers that do this work will be able to tap in to that knowledge base in Innsbruck.”

The city has contracted this work to the Focus Corporation of Vancouver in collaboration with Joel Nodelman, an Alberta engineer known as a leader in this field.

Related story in The Nelson Daily:

Nelson begins planning for extreme weather (September 2012)


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