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August 19, 2009
Toronto home retrofitted to protect against basement flooding
  
The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), with support from the City of Toronto, has retrofitted a Toronto home to reduce the risk of basement flooding. On August 19, 2005, a major rainstorm in the Greater Toronto Area caused more than $500 million in insured damage - the costliest natural catastrophe in Ontario history and the second most expensive on record for the country. Since then, there have been numerous severe storms causing basement flooding. Armed with knowledge of the practical tips used in the retrofit, homeowners can protect themselves and reduce the chance of flooding.

"Basement flooding, caused by overland water flows, infiltration and sewer backup, is a major concern for many urban municipalities in Canada," said ICLR's Executive Director Paul Kovacs. "With the increase in the frequency and intensity of rainfall events, along with urbanization and aging infrastructure, more homeowners are experiencing basement flooding. Effective management of flood risks requires investment and upgrading of municipal sewer infrastructure -- along with educated homeowners who take action to prevent flooding."

"Protecting properties from flooding is a shared responsibility .This retrofit demonstrates a number of ways that property owners can help guard against it," said Toronto Water's Director of Infrastructure Management Michael D'Andrea. "The City of Toronto has resources and a subsidy program to help homeowners be proactive and protect their homes against flooding."

The City's Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program provides subsidies for the installation of a number of devices including a backwater valve and sump pump. For information about how to apply, and other resources, visit http://www.toronto.ca/water/sewers/basement_flooding.htm.

ICLR has issued its "Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding," a new publication that addresses the concerns of homeowners, local governments and insurance companies of the increasing instances of basement flooding, by providing comprehensive information on how to mitigate flood risk for individuals and communities. The handbook contains 20 measures that homeowners can take to reduce their risks and their neighbourhoods' risk of basement flooding. Many of the measures are simple and relatively inexpensive -- for example, downspout disconnection, and sealing any cracks in foundation walls and basement floors.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters.

Media contacts:
Cheryl San Juan, Senior Communications Coordinator, City of Toronto, cell (event day) 416-994-3575, tel. 416-392-8259, chsanjua@toronto.ca
Glenn McGillivray, Managing Director, ICLR, ext. 3216, use cell 416-277-5827, tel. 416-364-8677,
fax 416-364-5889, gmcgillivray@iclr.org


Backgrounder

Prevention of basement flooding

On August 19, 2005, a major rainstorm in the GTA caused more than $500 million in insured damage - the costliest natural catastrophe in Ontario history and the second most expensive on record for the country. On that day more than 150 millimetres of rain fell on parts of Toronto during a three-hour deluge that impacted a wide swath of land from Kitchener-Waterloo to Durham Region. More than 13,000 sewer backup claims were filed with homeowner insurers. Since 2005, there have been several severe storms causing basement flooding. Homeowners need to be educated on how to protect themselves and reduce flooding events.

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) retrofitted a Toronto home (53 Parkview Ave.) to demonstrate measures that homeowners can take to reduce the risk of flooding.

Measures taken to help prevent basement flooding at 53 Parkview Ave:
* A licensed plumber conducted a thorough plumbing investigation including searching for cracks in the foundation walls and basement floor and ensuring that a backwater valve was installed and was functioning properly.
* Extensions and splash pads were placed on eavestrough downspouts.
* A French drain was installed on one downspout to prevent it from draining directly onto the driveway.
* The foundation drain was disconnected from the sanitary sewer lateral.
* A sump-pit and sump-pump were installed to convey foundation drainage to the lots' surface.
* Gaps were sealed around the furnace and water heater exhaust vents.
* The homeowner at 53 Parkview Ave. received a copy of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction's (ICLR) Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding.
* Other features of the home that reduce the risk of basement flooding and the amount of damage incurred should water enter the basement:
o The basement is not finished.
o Basement windows are relatively high off the ground.

* Further actions the homeowner has been asked to undertake include:
o Check their insurance policy to ensure they have sewer backup coverage.
o Implement a regular maintenance schedule for the backwater valve.
o Refrain from using plumbing, particularly appliances requiring water, during extreme rainfall events, because the backwater valve may be closed.
o Avoid pouring grease and debris down household drains.

* Other actions homeowners can take:
o Disconnect downspouts from the sewer system.
o Increase green space around your property to encourage ground infiltration.
o Avoid having sloped driveways or other surfaces that draw water toward the home -- ensure that driveways and landscaping are sloped to draw water away from the house.
o Apply to the City's Basement Flooding Subsidy Program http://www.toronto.ca/water/sewers/basement_flooding.htm

Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding
* A new publication released by the ICLR called The Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding, addresses the concerns of homeowners, local governments and insurance companies of the increasing instances of basement flooding, by providing comprehensive information on how to mitigate flood risk for individuals and communities. The handbook contains 20 measures that homeowners can take to reduce their risks and their neighbourhoods' risk of basement flooding.

Toronto sewer infrastructure
* Depending on the amount of rainfall and how fast it falls, the sewer and surface drainage systems can be overwhelmed in any area of the city, resulting in the risk of basement flooding. Sewer and surface drainage systems are designed to handle a certain intensity of storms.
* The City of Toronto is working to make improvements to its complex system of underground pipes, sewers and catchbasins, but these improvements alone cannot completely protect a home from basement flooding. Homeowners must also take action to reduce their risk of basement flooding.
* Toronto City Council has approved a Basement Flooding Work Plan that identifies 31 study areas. In four of these study areas, where basement flooding has been severe, 200 infrastructure improvements have been proposed at an estimated cost of $240 million. It is anticipated once the remaining 27 studies are completed, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of additional infrastructure upgrades will be needed.

Other ICLR activities
* As part of the insurance industry's ongoing commitment to educate Canadian homeowners about disaster safety, ICLR has retrofitted homes across the country to illustrate easy and relatively inexpensive measures that can be made to make a home more resilient to natural hazards:

2009: Toronto home was retrofitted to protect against winter storm, tornado and blackout.
2008: Montreal home was retrofitted to protect against winter storm and earthquake.
2007: Edmonton home was retrofitted to protect against tornado and winter storms.
2006: Ottawa home was made more resilient to earthquakes and winter storms.
2005: Vancouver home was made more resilient to earthquakes.
2004: Halifax home was protected against hurricanes.
2003: London home was made more resilient to tornadoes.

* The institute has also retrofitted child care centres across Canada as part of its "Protecting our Kids from Disasters" program.

For more information, visit http://www.iclr.org or http://www.toronto.ca/water.

Media contacts:
Cheryl San Juan, Senior Communications Coordinator, City of Toronto, cell (event day) 416-994-3575, tel. 416-392-8259, chsanjua@toronto.ca
Glenn McGillivray, Managing Director, ICLR, use cell 416-277-5827, tel. 416-364-8677 ext. 3216,
fax 416-364-5889, gmcgillivray@iclr.org


 

 

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