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Date: Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Consulting water engineer says Toronto flooding “could have been worse”

TORONTO – The massive storm that hit the Toronto region on July 8, 2013 dumped a record 126 millimetres of rain in 90 minutes and caused severe flooding across parts of the city. The City of Toronto has experienced basement flooding due to extreme storm events several times in the last 10 years and has budgeted $75M to deal with urban flooding in 2013 and $915M over the next 10 years.

“The answer is not bigger and better systems,” says Christine Hill, an engineer and partner with XCG Consultants. “Rather, we need to identify the areas that are most vulnerable and prioritize these higher risk areas for future upgrades.”

The flood could have been worse without the City’s multi-year Basement Flooding Protection Program, Hill says. The program consists of a number of studies, some already complete and others underway, to identify the best solutions to reduce the risk of flooding followed by prioritization of new works and finally, construction.

“Moving forward, all municipalities should be considering the impacts of climate change as the frequency of extreme events, which can cause basement flooding and damage, are anticipated to increase over time,” Hill adds. Municipalities and other groups with physical infrastructure should consider climate change in the design of their facilities and assess the resilience of their infrastructure to withstand extreme conditions. Operational and Emergency plans, designed to protect and preserve infrastructure from the impacts of potential flooding, are also key for ensuring public safety, maintaining service levels and minimizing damage to infrastructure assets.