City of Saskatoon says it is powerless to stop floods

Published: August 15, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Areas in the City of Saskatoon is in the midst of severe flooding, but officials admit there is little they can do to stop floods from happening when heavy rain hits.

A storm last Tuesday brought heavy rainfall to Saskatoon that resulted in heavy flooding in some parts of the city. Overland flooding has become a hot topic in Canada as insurance companies are now offering concise protection. However, many call for the government to also create a national flood program.

The country is going through an evolution of understanding floods. This includes increasing desire to build away from areas that are risk from floods. In the City of Saskatoon, it is too late, and officials say there is little they can do to stop the next heavy rainfall also resulting in floods:

“There is definitely a limit to what the storm sewer can take,” Saskatoon water and sewer manager Galen Heinrichs told CBC. “I would say there are very limited things that can be done.”

Nutana is the worst hit neighbourhood, where Environment Canada says 57 mm of rain fell in less than an hour.

“There is no way to build infrastructure for these types of storms in terms of catch basins and pipes that can solve it,” Heinrichs added. “Generally the solution for these types of storm events is to store the water in a pond, and so that’s why it is such a challenge in built up areas.”

The only potential answer Heinrichs offers is the creation of storage ponds that would take water from heavy rainfall. However, such a project would be expensive, costing the city as much as $6 million per single intersection.