The city has released flood maps that show where basement or street flooding has happened, and specific zones that show where things are most prone to possibly happen again in a severe storm. Now it’s up to city council to look at these guesstimates of where risk lurks, and ask you how much more you’d be willing to pay on your utility bill to solve the problem.
“If we see people say, ‘well I’ve got a one per cent chance in any given year, don’t over do it. Don’t raise my utility rates too much. Chip away at this in an orderly and reasonable fashion,’ that’s the feed back we’ll be looking for,” said Mayor Don Iveson who saw his home in a relatively prone zone.
Utility manager Chris Ward told council when walking them through all of the scenarios that the maps only show a “worst case scenario.”
“A 1-in-100 year storm has a one per cent chance of happening each year,” Ward said.
Relatively new on the market is an insurance product that guards against extremely heavy rain flowing into your basement after the streets become flooded. Bill Adams, the regional VP of the Insurance Bureau of Canada said it was born after the the Calgary floods. “When we had the flooding in southern Alberta in 2013 most of the people who had damage there was a result of overland flooding.”
“At that point you couldn’t purchase an insurance policy to cover that. Since then the market place has changed. There are a number of insurance companies out there now, offering precisely that product,” Adams said.
The other type of protection you can buy, saves you from the backed up sewage that can come into your home through the pipes. Adams said you can purchase a back-flow valve. The city has a program that offers a rebate or a discount to encourage you to buy one.
The maps were released by the city, admittedly with out a lot of context because they don’t have an explanation of what the city intends to do about it. That debate will happen in the spring Iveson said once city council gets some feed back from you on how aggressive you want the work to be done. The faster city crews install larger pipes to handle more severe storms, the higher your utility rates will be. That will dictate whether the city takes 50 years to do roughly $2.5 billion worth of retroactive installation, or 100 years.
“We’re still working through that in terms of the next priority,” said infrastructure boss Adam Laughlin at a news conference to announce $107 million worth of work of upgrades and creation of dry ponds in Mill Woods. “It’s linked to the strategy on how we approach this, whether it’s 50 or 100 years, it has some implications on the next priorities.”
“There is potentially a business case for us all to get on with the drainage work rather than just sit around, buy a ticket in the risk lottery, and hope it isn’t your neighborhood that gets hit,” said Mayor Iveson. “So I think there’s a will to take action and probably savings on the insurance side to offset some of the higher cost on your drainage utility.”
The city did make a switch in the approach they’ve taken to flooding. That was in 2012. Since then they’ve tried to work on areas they predict could be in trouble. Before that they only retroactively worked on areas that had already been hit.