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Green Calgary launches stormwater consultations

By: By Jessica Patterson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 11:38 am

Storm water ponds, like this one in Sagewood, are great for capturing excess rain.
Storm water ponds, like this one in Sagewood, are great for capturing excess rain.
Jessica Patterson/Rocky View Publishing

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Green Calgary is launching a new program to help residents in Airdrie and the City of Calgary identify water issues around their homes, including flooding and seepage.

“What we’re seeing is that people think about all sorts of issues in their homes but are unaware of the stormwater management and flood risks,” said Patricia Cameron, executive director of Green Calgary, a local environmental charity that provides hands-on support for Calgary and area to take action on urban environmental issues.

The RAIN home visit program will cost Airdronians approximately $75 for a visit with a trained consultant who will look at the roof, the eaves troughs, downspouts, any rain harvesting barrels, the slope of the land and pooling of water during storm events, said Cameron. The fee will cover travel costs for consultants. The first 100 Calgary residents to register for the program will get their home visit free.

“At the end of that, people will have a better idea of any issues they’re experiencing and have the information and support in developing a plan to address those,” she said.

Often, if homeowners haven’t had any stormwater issues themselves, their property could be contributing to someone else’s flooding or seepage, Cameron explained.

“People want to be part of the solution and anything you do in your home and neighbourhood that increases the land’s capacity to soak up or deal with the water, will help other neighbours down the road,” she said.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), water damage from basement flooding is becoming more common and those who live in areas prone to high water should take precautions. Stormwater, flooding and seepage claims were creeping up so significantly that in 2012 the IBC hiked insurance premiums.

The region has seen a number of factors that make flooding and stormwater more intense over the last two years, Cameron said.

“For example, we’re seeing bigger homes on smaller lots, so all of the ground is covered and there’s no absorbency,” she said.

“Rain, in nature, is an incredible resource. The land and landscape soaks it up, filters out impurities and recharges the water table and aquifers,” Cameron said. “In a highly-paved, cemented and built-up environment though, there’s been a destruction of what’s called natural hydrological services. So, the rain races down to the river.”

In an urban environment like Airdrie, Cameron recommends digging up that pristine lawn for a flower garden or vegetable garden, which soaks up rain better than lawn. Rain gardens, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, work well to capture excess stormwater. A rain garden is a planted flower bed designed to slowly absorb rainwater into the soil. The key element in planting a rain garden is that water mustn’t cause a problem on a neighbour’s yard, and mustn’t stand for more than two days.

The RAIN home visit consultancy program is run in partnership with program founder Green Communities Canada, and launches on April 23, on Earth Day. For more information, check out greencalgary.org


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