Could Insurance Markets Help Water Utilities Respond to Drought? | Circle of Blue WaterNews

Here’s a market solution to consider, President Trump

Researchers propose a new financial tool. Implications for Great Lakes?

I am quoting from an article written by Bret Walton for Circle Blue. He lays out the problem of water shortages out west and introduces the idea of “water insurance” just as we have car or flood insurance.
Greg Characklis, professor at UNC at Chapel Hill, further explains the notion in the following paragraphs:

“Utilities need to change their business models to adapt to 21st-century conditions. In an era of conservation, argues Greg Characklis, water utilities must become more sophisticated financial managers. One way they are doing this is by changing their rate structures so that they earn more revenue from “fixed” fees that do not fluctuate with the amount of water sold.

Characklis, a professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has another idea: insurance markets. Farmers buy crop insurance to protect against unpredictable weather and drivers purchase accident protection, but no similar product exists for water utilities. Characklis and his colleagues are assessing the viability of the new financial tool.”

Historic 2011 US and Canada flooding prompts water study – Washington Times

Excerpt from WashingronTimes on historic flooding:
IJC Future steps could include recommendations for flood control structures, such as a dam that was begun in the 1930s in Quebec but was never finished.

Low-lying areas around the lake in Vermont and New York were inundated by the spring runoff that kept the lake above flood stage for more than two months in 2011.

Read more: 
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Gravity detecting floods

When ground water saturates a river basin, the risk for flooding goes up. So does the strength of Earth’s gravity in that region, ever so slightly, because of the extra mass of the underground water. By using tiny variations in gravity detected from space, researchers report online today in Nature Geoscience thatthey can identify basins that are primed for flooding if additional rains come—sometimes with several months’ warning. As a test case, the scientists looked at the gravity signals leading up to catastrophic floods in 2011 on the Missouri River (pictured above). They used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a pair of orbiting satellites that get tugged around the Earth faster in places where gravity is slightly stronger. Using the gravity signal—with its sensitivity to groundwater stores—improved model forecasts and predicted a high discharge 5 months before the 2011 flood. The gravity data was more important for forecasts than measures of snowmelt and soil wetness were. The approach is not yet ready to be rolled into flood forecasts. One problem is that the gravity signal is less important in places where rainfall alone dominates—such as monsoon-driven floods in India and Pakistan. Another problem is that GRACE, with its fuzzy resolution, can see groundwater anomalies only over large river basins, 200,000 square kilometers or more. And third, it takes 3 months or more to get data down from GRACE and process it, which erases much of the warning time. 

Portage Diversion breaches, floods ice jams – Manitoba – CBC News

Diversions are fascinating. This breach of the Portage diversion in Manitoba is costing Yuill his farm land. The law says you can not obstruct a waterway. But the diversion is manmade waterway. The legal restrictions and insurance and provincial/local compensation for flooding is a conundrum of sorts. (There is a similar situation on the Binnekill in Margaretville, New York a few miles from me.) To read about the ice jams go to article link. Excerpt from CBC report:

“A Portage la Prairie, Man., farmer is vowing to defy a court order to stay away from the Portage Diversion after he received reports of water spilling from the diversion onto his land.

‘If we blockade a waterway, it’s a $10,000 fine. What’s the fine for flooding someone?’
—Kevin Yuill
Kevin Yuill told CBC News he is willing to break the law to see how much damage there is to his farmland on the west side of the diversion.

“I am prepared to do what we need to do to try and remedy the situation. This is totally ridiculous what this government is doing,” he said.

Yuill was among the protesters who blocked the operation of the diversion earlier this week.

He said he first had reports of the breach Wednesday night.

By Thursday morning, Yuill said he could see water flowing over the land. He said it was about a third of a metre deep and 200 metres wide.

The province got a court order to remove the protesters. It remains in effect until May 7.

But Yuill said he isn’t worried about getting arrested.

“This happens almost every year and it’s extremely, extremely frustrating,” he said.

“I got a message this morning [that] if we blockade a waterway, it’s a $10,000 fine. What’s the fine for flooding someone?”

Yuill blamed the province for flooding his land in 2011, causing him losses of $300,000.

Yuill’s threat to break the law comes on the heels of new legislation introduced Wednesday to crack down on Manitobans who ignore evacuation orders or impede the operation of flood control structures.”