Flood Mitigation Survey Results

August 15, 2013 by CRC Action Group in News

As we embark on mitigating our individual homes against flooding we continue to advocate for large scale community solutions that will provide even great protection to the homeowner, business owner, and City of Calgary.

A very special thank you from all of us at CRCAG to Brenda Leeds Binder for her great work putting together this survey and analyzing the results.


The Calgary River Communities Action Group (CRCAG) prepared and sent a survey to the CRCAG distribution list on August 10th and collected over 400 responses from August 10-14, 2013.  According to the Alberta.ca website, there are 4 flood mitigation steps required of homeowners and businesses rebuilding in the flood fringe, each of which were addressed by the flood mitigation survey.  The following is a summary of the survey results and an overview of CRCAG’s proposals in response.  Each proposal is supported by, and representative of, the survey responses.

Step 1 – Refinish with materials and finishes that resist water damage and are cleanable.  The Alberta.ca website provides a list of “acceptable materials” and a list of “not acceptable materials”. 

Walls and Ceilings

An overwhelming number of respondents (85%) indicated a lack of confidence that the listed acceptable building materials will withstand flooding, and 84% would prefer to rebuild with drywall (included on the list of “not acceptable materials”).  Comments collected from respondents that had used acceptable materials in their basements pre-flood show that in at least 75 instances, people had used cement board (typically in showers) in their basements, but it did not withstand flooding and had to be removed.  As such, there is a clear reluctance to use this material throughout the basement walls and ceilings – at considerable expense – when it would likely have to be removed if there is another flood event.

Of the respondents that had some idea as to the incremental cost to use approved building materials on their walls and ceilings, 74% of those estimate the cost to exceed $10,000.

Framing Material (Studs)

A majority of respondents that had untreated wood studs pre-flood were able to salvage the studs by cleaning, drying and sanitizing the studs without removal.   In instances where the studs were salvaged, typically the electrical and plumbing running through the studs was also salvaged.  To remove and replace the studs would require removal and replacement of all affected wiring and plumbing, considering increasing the rebuilding cost.

More than 60% of respondents prefer to use un-treated wood studs in rebuilding their basements.

Of the respondents that have an idea as to the incremental cost to rebuild using pre-treated lumber or steel studs (including the cost of re-wiring and/or re-plumbing if necessitated by removal of salvaged untreated wood studs), 90% responded with an estimated cost exceeding $5000 and 70% expect the cost to exceed $10,000.


Of the respondents that indicated they had foam or closed-cell insulation pre-flood, 67% of those responded that it was removed during flood remediation.

The majority of respondents would prefer to use fibreglass batt insulation when rebuilding their basements.  The main reasons for preferring batt insulation are cost and non-confidence that foam or closed-cell insulation will withstand flooding.


Nearly 200 respondents commented on flooring materials they had used pre-flood, and whether or not they withstood the water damage.  In many instances, respondents reported that concrete floors remained intact.  In several instances, respondents reported the tile floors were salvaged, although in several instances tile floors were removed.

Over 150 respondents commented on reasons for wanting to use carpet in their basements; warmth, cost and practicality were primary reasons.


An overwhelming (98%) number of respondents consider the use of metal doors for interior basement doors as unnecessary.

CRCAG Proposals

Walls and Ceilings

  • Include drywall as an acceptable material for walls and ceilings.

Framing Material

  • Include untreated lumber as an acceptable material for studs.


  • Include fibreglass batt insulation as an acceptable material.


  • Include carpet as an acceptable material.


  • Include non-metal doors as an acceptable material.

Step 2 – Seal all the openings in the basement wall where piping, wiring and conduits come through, to prevent seepage.

Majority of respondents consider the mitigation step reasonable.

CRCAG Proposal – No change proposed.

Step 3 – Relocate main electrical panel, so it is not located in the basement; the main floor of the dwelling would be acceptable. Circuits feeding electrical outlets and equipment in the basement are to be separate and isolated from the remainder of the dwelling, so power can be restored quickly in the event of a flood.

Relocating Main Electrical Panel:

Over 80% of respondents indicated that relocating the main electrical panel in an existing home is unreasonable.  A majority of respondents (68%) indicated that this is a reasonable mandatory requirement for a new build in the flood fringe, but unreasonable for an existing build.

Relocating the main electrical panel is not economically feasible.  For an existing home, this would be an expensive, involved undertaking.  The benefit of the move does not outweigh the cost.  If an entire electrical panel had to be replaced following a subsequent flood event, the cost to replace the panel would be less than the cost to relocate the panel now, for a flood event that may never occur.

Isolating Basement Circuits:

Over 65% of respondents indicated that isolating the basement circuits in an existing home is unreasonable.  A majority of respondents (56%) indicated that this is a reasonable mandatory requirement for a new build in the flood fringe, but unreasonable for an existing build.

The main reasons given for Step 3 being unreasonable are both cost and difficulty of implementing.  More than half of the respondents are estimating the cost to implement Step 3 (Electrical) to exceed $5000, with many estimating the cost to exceed $10,000.

CRCAG Proposal

Relocating Main Electrical Panel:

  • Consider making it mandatory to locate the main electrical panel on the main floor of a dwelling for any new builds in designated flood fringe or floodway zones.
  • Make it a non-mandatory recommendation to re-locate the main electrical panel to the main floor of any existing dwellings.

Isolating Basement Circuits:

  • Consider making it mandatory to isolate basement circuits for any new builds in designated flood fringe or floodway zones.
  • Make it a non-mandatory recommendation to isolate basement circuits for an existing dwelling.

Step 4 – Protect plumbing fixtures/equipment located in basements from backflow from the public sewer.

The majority of respondents indicated that the requirement for a backflow valve is reasonable for both new builds and existing dwellings.  Most estimate the cost to be from $1000-$5000.

CRCAG Proposal – No change proposed.

While these are the changes we hope to see in the Standata, we want to be clear that we are still opposed to the basic concept of potentially disentitling homeowners from access to future Disaster Relief Funding and labeling on title a future homeowner’s eligibility for that social program based on prior use, as this represents a retroactive rewriting of building codes and is essentially a disentitlement to funding under threat. This is especially the case given that there are no alternatives currently available to DRP funding, such as Overland Flood Insurance.

We anticipate many of us will chose to take further steps to mitigate our homes against flooding, and/or to make our homes more flood proof. These steps will be of our choosing and not because they are mandated.