Flood protection infrastructure and related works are structural measures designed to help control floodwaters and keep them away from communities, people and assets. Many communities have historically constructed and relied on these works to protect them from floods.
Flood infrastructure is often important for managing flood hazard. There are, however, always residual risks (i.e., it is not fail-safe). The Government of BC has stated that, while well-designed structural measures can help reduce flood damage, they can sometimes reduce flood risk in one location while increasing it in another. Relying on structural works for flood protection, especially without strong land use policy, can create a false sense of security that encourages development in flood-prone areas, thus exposing more people to flood risk.
The Government of BC also notes, “It is not cost-effective in all cases to control the threat of all floods through the construction of dikes and other flood protection structures.” There is growing recognition that infrastructure alone is not enough, and more attention should be paid to non-structural approaches to reducing flood risk.