Understanding and Assessing Impacts
The City of Winnipeg is located in a former glacial lake with a remarkably low-lying flood plain over a flat topography. The low elevation of the City made sewers and other buried infrastructure particularly vulnerable to damage from flooding. With climate change bringing more frequent and severe intense rainfall events, private homes in Winnipeg became increasing susceptible to damage from sewage backup through basement floor drains, toilets, and sinks. This observation was supported with data from insurance companies, which indicated that damage from sewer backup had been growing for three or four decades, including an alarming increase over the last five to ten years. In recent years, damage to homes from sewer backup and other water damage had exceeded $2 billion annually. These national trends combined with the geography of the region made it paramount for Winnipeg to introduce adaptation. The City experienced many extreme rainfall events in the past that overwhelmed the capacity of its storm and wastewater management systems. These rainfall events convinced local authorities to think aggressively about mitigation measures to protect homes from basement flooding—an issue exacerbated by climate change.