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Flooding

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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Protection from water damage and sewer backup
There are many things you can do:

  • Arrange for a licensed plumber to install a backwater valve on a sewer line in the basement of your home. This device, if properly installed, automatically closes if sewage backs up from the main sewer. A backflow prevention device installed in the floor drain is not a Manitoba Plumbing Code approved backwater valve.
  • Install a sump pit drainage system (includes a sump pit, a sump pump, and a pump discharge pipe).
  • Check and maintain your backwater valve and sump pit drainage system regularly.
  • Don't drain water from your sump pump into your floor drain. Not only is it illegal, it increases the risk of basement flooding for you and your neighbours. The sewer system is designed to manage only normal flows of wastewater, not sump pump water. Keep the end of the hose well away from your property line so that water does not flow onto the street, lane, boulevard, sidewalk, or your neighbour's property.
  • Improve drainage around your house.
  • Build up the ground around your house so that water flows away from your basement walls. Also examine sidewalks, patios, decks, and driveways. These can settle over time and cause water to drain back towards your basement walls.
  • Extend downspouts so that water flows away from your house and doesn't pool next to the basement walls or basement windows. If your downspouts are connected to your home's sewer system, disconnect them.
  • Clean debris from eavestroughs regularly. If they overflow even when clean, replace them with larger size eavestroughs and downspouts.
  • Don't throw garbage down your sinks or toilets. Garbage (e.g., dental floss, diapers, cotton swabs) that gets into your sewer through your drains can clog your sewer and cause sewer backup.
  • Avoid pouring fat, oil, and grease down your drain. Grease hardens as it cools and sticks to the inner lining of sewer pipes, eventually causing a blockage.
  • Prop appliances such as washers, dryers, and freezers off the floor by putting blocks of wood under them so they don't get damaged by water. It is common for backups to be less than a few inches of water.
  • Don't store belongings in paper boxes on the floor in the basement. Store them on a shelf or in plastic totes.
  • Don't put grass clipping, leaves, or other debris on the streets as they can plug the drains and prevent proper drainage, particularly during heavy rainfalls. Plugged drains cause water to build up on the street, which could cause water to drain into the sewer system through manhole covers and increase your risk of basement flooding. If you notice a plugged drain, contact contact 311.
River flooding

We will identify affected homes and will notify property owners directly using hand-delivered notices. If you haven't heard from the City and you believe your property to be at risk of river flooding, contact contact 311.

Yes, as long as:

  • You sign a waiver that we provide to you, and
  • We have the sandbags made. If there is an unexpected heavy demand on sandbags and we don't have enough made, we will provide the bags and the sand, and property owners must fill the bags

No. Property owners are responsible for building their own dike.

Yes. We will survey and stake the top of the dike for your property.

Detailed instructions on how to build a sandbag dike, including construction plans, number of sandbags required, and how-to videos is available at City of Winnipeg - EmergWeb.

Yes, the City will do its best to accommodate requests within our available resources.

We will contact property owners to advise them when the risk is over.

No. Property owners are responsible for taking down their dike.

No. Property owners are responsible for disposing of their sandbags.

River water contains bacteria. If the river water has touched the sandbags, we don't recommend you reuse the sand or the sandbags. Take your used sandbags to a landfill or to the Brady 4RWinnipeg Depot, which accepts garbage.

Current river levels are available online at City of Winnipeg – River Levels.

Snowmelt on property
  • Move snow away from your foundation
  • Ensure the snowmelt has a clear path to drain away from your foundation and can follow the normal drainage path off your property
  • Ensure downspout extensions are in place
  • Ensure water from your sump pump is directed away from your foundation
  • Place sandbags around your foundation where snowmelt could enter, such as around basement windows - place the sandbags far enough away from your foundation (at least two feet) so that you can ensure that snowmelt doesn't collect between the foundation and the sandbags

No. However, we will have sandbags available for pick-up by Winnipeg residents only when there is a threat of river flooding.

If the sandbag has not come into contact with any contaminated material (e.g., sewage, animal waste), you can reuse the sand or sandbags.

Take your used sandbags to a landfill or to the Brady 4RWinnipeg Depot, which accepts garbage.

No. We don't lend out pumps as we only have enough pumps for our work. We recommend you contact a licensed plumber.

We recommend you improve the drainage around your foundation so that rain, sump pump water and snowmelt drains away from your home.

Overland flooding (e.g., overflowing water from creeks, ditches)

No. However, we will have sandbags available for pick-up by Winnipeg residents only when there is a threat of river flooding.

If the sandbag has not come into contact with any contaminated material (e.g., sewage, animal waste), you can reuse the sand or sandbags.

Take your used sandbags to a landfill or to the Brady 4RWinnipeg Depot, which accepts garbage.

Last updated: March 19, 2019

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