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ICLR Releases New Study: 'Urban Flooding In Canada: Lot-side Risk Reduction Through Voluntary Retrofit Programs, Code Interpretation And By-laws'

The study revealed that backwater valve building/plumbing code wordings are interpreted differently across the country, though there is greater interpretation consistency in some regions than in others. Specifically, the survey revealed that 19% of British Columbia respondents, 81% of Alberta respondents, 86% of Saskatchewan respondents, 72% of Manitoba respondents, 26% of Ontario respondents and 58% of respondents from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia interpreted code wordings in a manner that required backwater valves to be installed in all or most new homes. The study further revealed that interpreting code wordings in this manner was strongly correlated with a higher frequency of installation of backwater valves in new homes, indicating the importance of code interpretation for backwater valve installation.

According to Dan Sandink, study author, "Despite the fact that the National Building Code of Canada and virtually all provinces use near identical code wordings in the backwater valve sections of their respective building and/or plumbing codes, this study found that there are differing interpretations of code wordings, resulting in differing frequencies of installation of backwater valves. So, while building and plumbing officials in many jurisdictions in Canada interpret the code as meaning that all new homes should have backwater valves, some officials in some jurisdictions interpret the code as meaning that backwater valves shall be used only in certain circumstances."

The primary recommendation of this report is that sentences in the National Plumbing Code and provincial building and/or plumbing codes that relate to installation of backwater valves to protect against sewer backflow be reworded or clarified to ensure they are clearly and consistently interpreted and applied.

According to the study, there are many advantages of installing backwater valves in new homes. Due to the unpredictable nature of extreme rainfall events and the unpredictability of infiltration and inflow (I/I) in relatively new, separated sewer systems, it is often impossible to identify which regions of an urban municipality are exposed to sewer backup risk until widespread or regional sewer backup events have occurred. It is also more economical to install backwater valves in new homes when compared to retrofitting valves into existing homes. For example, several Canadian municipalities provide partial retrofit subsidies of several thousand dollars for the retrofit of backwater valves, while installation of valves in new homes costs approximately $250. Requiring installation of valves in new homes would also help offset relatively low uptake frequencies for municipal subsidy programs aimed at encouraging homeowners to adopt urban flood risk reduction measures.

The paper can be downloaded at www.iclr.org

Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at Western University in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters.

SOURCE Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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