With summer rains hitting the GTA hard over the past couple of months, residents in Toronto have been hard hit by floods. In particular, people living in freestanding houses in the east are fuming over the problems they have experienced with basement flooding in Scarborough. On July 22, a thunderstorm brought almost 90 millimetres of rain to the area located in Study Area 22, which is one of the 32 areas designated as being at risk for basement flooding. In August, the city was drenched again when 22 millimetres fell just after 8 pm on the 27th, and the day after Labour Day the effects of Hurricane Isaac far to the south caught us for a third time.
Causes of basement flooding in Scarborough
The main reason for basement flooding is usually found on your property, caused by issues such as:
- Overflowing eavestroughs
- Poor drainage
- Blocked downspouts
In the case of the basement flooding in Scarborough, however, the main cause appears to be inadequate storm water drainage pipes, according to Scarborough South West Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, whose basement was also flooded. If the pipes are unable to draw off the waters fast enough, the sewers back up and overflow wherever the water can enter. This typically causes flooding in low-lying gardens, depressions in the roadway and of course, basements, which provide perfect, hollow receptacles for large quantities of water.
What is the city doing?
The city of Toronto is working to resolve the problem, with the study of the 32 designated areas underway. Area 22 was due to hold the first of two Public Information Centres in mid-2012, to answer questions from residents on the incidences of basement flooding in Scarborough, and to discuss the next steps in the process. The area is earmarked for a sewer upgrade in 2014, valued at $450,000, but residents feel that it is too long for them to wait for flood relief to come. Many residents believe the outcome of the study will only solve half of the problem, however, leaving the measures needed onsite for individual properties for the cost of the homeowner.
What should the homeowner do?
There are a number of steps that the city recommends for homeowners to take to reduce the risk of basement flooding in Scarborough. These include
- Disconnection of downspouts from municipal sewers, in cases where the storm water and sanitary drains are served by a single pipe;
- Regular drain inspections to make sure your drainage system isn’t cracked, blocked or at risk from a growing mass of tree roots;
- Installation of backflow valves on the sewer lines;
- Connection of a sump pump to foundation drains;
- Waterproofing your basement to withstand average rainfall.
In addition, the city offers grants of up to $3,200 to homeowners to use towards installing eligible flood prevention measures themselves. The majority of these tasks can be accomplished by your local Scarborough plumbing contractor.
So, what’s the solution?
Homeowners in the area believe there’s no easy answer to the problem. Even if the city upgrades the sewers before the next major downpour, there’s no guarantee that will prevent basement flooding in Scarborough from occurring again in the future. The only real solution is to implement all the prevention measures eligible for the grant, and take whatever other steps they can to reduce their risk. Compared with the danger of losing valuable and sentimental belongings to the floodwaters, it’s an easy choice.
Get expert advice on your eligibility for the flood prevention grant and other ways to reduce the risk of basement flooding in Scarborough and other parts of the GTA. Contact your local Toronto plumber for a free consultation and estimate.