November 28, 2014 by Canadian Underwriter
Communities large and small across Canada are now taking action to reduce the risk of basement flooding and damage to property from sewer back-up, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) notes in a statement announcing the availability of a new book.
Cities adapt to extreme rainfall: Celebrating local leadership describes 20 of the many successful local projects under way or already completed in communities adapting to better address the risks associated with extreme rainfall. Of the 20 communities profiled, eight are in Ontario, four are in British Columbia, two apiece are in Alberta and Quebec, and one apiece are in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Calling extreme rainfall “one of the most important issues of our time,” ICLR emphasizes the need to adapt in light of the “alarming recent increase in damage to homes.” And, it adds, related damage is sure to increase “because it is inevitable that the frequency and severity of extreme rainfall events will escalate as a result of climate change.”
In recent years, severe rainfall has replaced fire to become the leading cause of damage to Canadian homes, ICLR reports. Damage to homes from sewer back-up and basement flooding now exceeds $2 billion a year, and has been rising at an unsustainable rate for more than 25 years, the statement notes.
“Much of the damage to homes is preventable if local governments and homeowners apply existing knowledge to the design and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure,” argues ICLR executive director Paul Kovacs (pictured), lead author of the book.
“Over the next few decades, it is expected that Canadians will experience more frequent and intense rainstorms. Nevertheless, if we adapt, it is possible that we could also experience reduced stormwater damage to homes,” Kovacs suggests.
Some of the preventive actions that have taken by municipalities – rather than waiting to respond until after an extreme rainfall event – include mandating that backwater valves be installed in new homes; requiring that storm laterals be replaced when substantial renovations to a home are planned; and providing incentives for at-risk homeowners to disconnect weeping tiles from the municipal sewer system.
It is encouraging that some local governments, property owners and other stakeholders are starting to take action, suggests the ICLR statement. Among other things, the book offers mini case studies showcasing successful local actions that can and should be used by communities across the country to confront the dual challenge of waste and stormwater management.
“The local policy decisions presented are, in ICLR’s opinion, scientifically sound, and provide a sustainable foundation for long-term success,” ICLR notes.
Says Kovacs, “Considerable effort is required to regain control over the risk of damage to homes from extreme rainfall. Nevertheless, the direction we must follow is becoming clear.”
Cities adapt to extreme rainfall: Celebrating local leadership can be downloaded for free in its entirety or by chapter at the ICLR website. [Digital Editoin below]: