Fraser River Floodplain
The Fraser River frontage within the City of Surrey is approximately 22km long, with dykes protecting most of the shorelines, as seen in the attached map. The Fraser River floodplain encompasses 776 hectares of developed land that includes a high-density mix of industrial and residential properties.
The system of dykes within the Fraser River frontage as seen below is comprised of 3.9km mix of concrete flood walls (red, yellow and orange) , 1.4km earthdykes (purple), 2.3km of raised ground and temporary earth dykes and 16 crossing structures.
The flood plain is serviced by 4 pump stations which are the bright green dots in the map above, or in the attached map. These stations drain rainwater and groundwater from behind the dykes at times of high river levels due to either tides, storm surges or annual freshet conditions.
History of Fraser River Flood Protection
The South Westminster area, near the Patullo bridge, is a very low flood bench area of the Fraser River that has historically experienced flooding problems during the Fraser River freshet. In 1920 the South Westminster Dyking district was formed providing 2.6 miles of dyke, 7 flood boxes, and 4.3 miles of interior ditches. Then in 1930 the provincial dyking commissioner took over some dyking activities after the district went into receivership.
Courtesy of Surrey Archives
By 1967 there were 500 homes in the flood plain area plus a more significant industrial presence. In this same year the province asked the City to take over the Dyking District due to lack of maintenance and financial difficulties. The area flooded again in 1972 and this is why in 1975 the South Westminster Dyking District transferred to Surrey under an agreement with the province to improve the existing dyke and flood protection systems.
In 1979 the province and CNR reached agreement on a floodwall alignment and after the works started the federal government pulled additional funding for the overall Fraser River Flood control program. The federal/provincial program expired before the dykes were fully tied in. Additional works to upgrade the dykes were conducted in 1997, 2000 and 2007. Currently the City in cooperation with the Federal and provincial governments, is upgrading the existing dykes to provide for an improved level of protection. The first phase of the project is to be complete by March 2011.