The City of Saskatoon is blaming old stormwater systems and intense rainfall as the reason why several streets turned into rivers Tuesday afternoon.
Avalon, Adelaide-Churchill and parts of Nutana were overwhelmed by the sudden rainstorm around the lunch hour, which dropped up to 57 millimetres in parts of the city according to Environment Canada.
Water and Sewer Engineering Manager Galen Heinrichs told reporters Wednesday morning the drainage systems in those neighbourhoods were built in the 1950s.
“This was before we did stormwater management in the city,” he said.
Heinrichs said the main “trunk” lines moving underneath main roadways like Taylor Street and 8th Street were overwhelmed by the rain, causing manholes to burst and flood the streets.
He noted a business plan is being presented to city council later in August to suggest solutions for the flooding of the older neighbourhoods.
But it could be an expensive and possibly ineffective fix.
“A lot of these intersections are in older areas where it’s very difficult to put a lot of storm sewer solutions in place,” Heinrichs said.
“There’s no storm ponds or anything like you’d find in a newer neighbourhood.”
He said any solution for a block or two of residents could range in cost between $3 million and $6 million.
The job is made even more difficult by the developed nature of the areas prone to flooding, limiting the space where a mitigation system like a storm pond can be placed.
The business plan also doesn’t include the intersection of Taylor Street and Broadway Avenue, which flooded extensively Tuesday.
Tuesday’s 57 millimetres of rain in one hour would classify the storm as a one-in-25 year event, according to charts used by the city to plot storm severity.
Heinrichs said even with improvements to problem areas, such intense storms could still create flooding.
“There are some storms that are simply too big for the storm sewer system,” he said.
Cleanup continues, Market Mall reopens
While city crews continued to collect debris and clear catch basins, homeowners and businesses were cleaning up their own properties Wednesday.
SGI told 650 CKOM 23 properties in Warman and Saskatoon had already made claims due to storms on Monday and Tuesday, while 145 auto claims were made.
The provincial insurer said the claims were evenly split between flood, hail and wind damage.
Market Mall also opened its doors to the public, after working late into the night to clear the shopping centre of water.
Property Manager Betty Ann Fisher said as the surrounding area flooded, the storm sewer backed up into the mall and burst in the Dollarama and the Safeway.
“The storm sewer was pumping about probably two feet in the air,” she said. “Their storm sewer looked like a fire hydrant, a big geyser.”
The mall was evacuated around 1:30 p.m. after the flood.
She said they pumped water until midnight, and crews were working to repair the damaged roof Wednesday.
Fisher added it was the first flood she had seen after 20 years of working at the mall.
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Celine Grimard.