Regions

Durham

While most of the attention around flooding in Durham Region has recently focused on people living close to Lake Ontario, Durham residents living close to a river or in a neighbourhood with an inadequate stormwater system can also experience flooding.


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Most of the attention around flooding in Durham Region has recently focused on people living close to Lake Ontario. But Durham residents living near a river or in a neighbourhood with an inadequate stormwater system are also at risk. They got a taste of this in 2016 and 2017, when major rain storms flooded roads region-wide.

Unfortunately, things will only get worse as the climate crisis brings us more severe rain events. With greater rainfall comes more flooding. With fewer surfaces that soak up rain, the water hits hard surfaces that quickly overwhelm the stormwater system. Always looking for the lowest point, the water makes its way into basements and other low lying areas.

According to the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA), Durham residents who will suffer the most are those living in downtown Oshawa, and with homes beside Lynde Creek in Whitby.

In downtown Oshawa, residents and businesses along Oshawa Creek are in a low-lying area that will be flooded after a heavy rain. This will be made worse by the “Great Wall of Durham, “ the embankments for the railway and 401, which act like a bottleneck and keep water from flowing to the lake. Add to this an older stormwater system, and it creates a “perfect storm” that CLOCA states will cause the most flood damage in Durham when a big rainstorm hits.

People living east of Lynde Creek, just north of the 401, will also be hit hard, especially those who have homes built right in the floodplain. Heavy rainfalls mean an overflowing creek, made worse by the Great Wall of Durham that won’t let the water drain fast enough. Which means flooded basements.

Thankfully, heavy rainstorms won’t harm everyone’s property. But everyone will be harmed. Floods damage roads and other transportation infrastructure, requiring precious tax dollars to repair. Floods also mean insurance payouts, leading to higher insurance premiums that we all have to pay. And, of course floods take a toll on our mental and physical health.

To learn more about flooding in Durham Region, especially which areas are most prone to flooding visit CLOCA and TRCA.

Toronto

Toronto residents got a taste of the future in 2013 when almost 130 mm of rain fell in a couple of hours on a hot and humid July afternoon. Toronto’s aging stormwater system was just too small to handle the water. Shortly after the rain started, water entered subway and hydro stations, turned roads and transportation corridors into mini lakes and flooded countless basements.


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Toronto had a repeat performance in 2017 followed by high lake levels that started flooding homes on Toronto Island and beaches along the lakefront.

With the climate crisis, these floods will only get worse: more severe rain events means greater rainfall and more flooding. Add to that, we have had decades of development that has prioritized hard surfaces over surfaces that soak up water: when the water hits hard surfaces, it quickly overwhelms the stormwater system. Always looking for the lowest point, the water makes its way into basements and other low lying areas.

Much of the older parts of Toronto also have combined sewer overflows (CSOs). These are old pipes that carry stormwater and raw sewage from homes and buildings. Normally, these old pipes carry the water and sewage to treatment plants where the pollutants are removed from the water before it flows back into Lake Ontario. But when there is a heavy rain, the old pipes can’t handle all the water. Overflow pipes empty into rivers across the city sending raw sewage into our rivers and then the lake. Which is why beaches are often closed right after a heavy rainfall.

Certain neighbourhoods in Toronto are more prone to flooding than others. Being in low-lying areas close to creeks and rivers or beside the lake increases the likelihood of flooding causing you personal harm. But flooding harms the rest of us as well.

Floods damage transportation infrastructure like roads and subways as well as electrical systems. This requires a lot of tax dollars to repair. Floods also mean insurance payouts, leading to higher insurance premiums that we all have to pay. And, of course floods take a toll on our mental and physical health.

To learn more about flooding in Toronto, especially which areas are most prone to flooding visit the TRCA.

Niagara

Water defines Niagara Region by the lakes that surround it and the canals and rivers that run through it. Residents know the power water has to shape Niagara, thanks to the mighty Falls: They also know the damage it can cause. Over the past few years, high river and lake levels have caused serious flooding from Fort Erie to the south to St. Catharines to the north.


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In 2019, an intense rainstorm overflowed rivers and stormwater systems and submerged much of Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie, including the newly renovated carousel, as well as roads across the region. Since 2017, higher than usual lake levels have led to flooding along Lake Ontario and Lake Erie for many residents. And, like other regions along the Greater Golden Horseshoe, flooding is caused by too many hard surfaces channeling ever more rain into stormwater systems designed for an earlier era.

Unfortunately, things will only get worse as the climate crisis brings us more severe rain events. With greater rainfall comes more flooding. Rivers overflow and lake levels get higher. With fewer surfaces that soak up rain, the water hits hard surfaces and quickly overwhelms the stormwater system. Always looking for the lowest point, the water makes its way into basements and other low lying areas.

Thankfully, heavy rainstorms won’t harm everyone’s property. But everyone will be harmed. Floods damage roads and other transportation infrastructure, requiring precious tax dollars to repair. Floods also mean insurance payouts, leading to higher insurance premiums that we all have to pay. And, of course floods take a toll on our mental and physical health.

To learn more about flooding in Niagara Region, visit NPCA.