Urban/basement flooding is a large and growing problem for homeowners, municipalities and insurers across the country. In just the past few years there have been several events that have resulted in basement flooding in both larger and smaller communities across the country. Urban flooding has occurred in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto, Montréal, Moncton and several other larger communities. Urban flooding has also occurred in Prince George and Port Alberni, B.C., Stratford and Peterborough, Ontario, as well as in many other smaller communities. Indeed, almost no urban community in Canada is immune to urban/basement flooding.
Municipal governments across Canada are working hard to reduce urban flooding problems. Many cities are replacing and updating aging sewer systems and building additional capacity into existing systems. However, improving sewer infrastructure is an expensive and long-term process. In many cases, these projects will take several years – even decades - and several billion dollars to complete.
In the meantime, insurance companies are seeing a marked increase in water damage claims, particularly from urban/basement flooding. Over the past ten years, water damage has become one of the greatest sources of homeowner insurance payouts. Indeed, water has now exceeded fire as the number one source of homeowner insurance claims in Canada. At present, roughly half of all homeowner claims now have a water damage component to them.
As municipalities work towards finding long-term solutions to the urban flooding problem, and insurers cope with the dramatic increase in water damage claims, homeowners can take action to reduce the risk of experiencing damage from basement flooding and other types of water damage. By taking action now, homeowners can limit their homes’ negative impact on sewer and stormwater management infrastructure (i.e. by reducing the amount of wastewater entering the municipal system from their homes) and take important and more active roles in urban/basement flood mitigation.