Wingham chosen for innovative pilot project to
reduce sewer overflows and conserve water
IBC to roll out 1,000 free rain barrels to Wingham homeowners
Wingham, ON – March 16, 2009: More than a thousand free rain barrels will soon be
made available to Wingham homeowners to participate in a pilot project to be conducted
by Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Township of North Huron. The
IBC/Wingham Rain Barrel Pilot Project will determine whether the use of rain barrels
is one effective way of keeping basements dry during intense rain storms.
“We’re delighted to have Wingham on board for this important study,” said Mary Lou
O’Reilly, IBC’s VicePresidentof Public Affairs. “This community meets all of the
necessary criteria, including a history of sewer overflows and flooded basements during
intense rain storms,” she added.
The free rain barrels, with a retail value of $75 each, will be distributed at the Second Annual Wingham Health and Wellness Fair on May 27 at the North Huron Wescast Community Complex.
“We are also impressed with how readily Reeve Neil Vincent and the entire town council
embraced the project and how committed the community’s leaders are to the township’s
adaptation to the growing reality of severe weather,” Ms. O’Reilly added.
Intense rainstorms, which are occurring more frequently in many parts of the country,
including Wingham, are widely attributed to climate change. Typically, sewer backups
and flooding occur during these periods of intense rainfall because outdated municipal
infrastructures do not have the capacity to handle the downpours. This can result in
damage that is costly for homeowners, municipalities, and the insurance industry, as
“Overloading of our water and sewer system is a growing problem in this region, and we
are interested in anything that will prevent the type of flooding we saw here as recently
as last fall,” stated Councillor Greg McClinchey. He also emphasized that the rain barrel
project will not change any existing plans to improve basic surface and sewer
infrastructure in the area.
“Today more than ever, people want to do what they can to help the environment. By
getting involved in this pilot project, Wingham residents can take pride in the fact that
they are doing something tangible to help their community and other communities across
the country that will be following our progress with great interest,” Ms. O’Reilly said.
The success of the pilot project depends on the participation of Wingham homeowners.
Proper use of the rain barrels is also an important factor. Each barrel must be emptied
regularly by using water collected in the barrels to water lawns and gardens, to wash
cars or for other outdoor chores.
“A simple rain barrel seems like a small thing,” Ms. O’Reilly noted. “But if an entire
community works together to help prevent sewer system overflows and, at the same
time, reduces the demand for treated water from the township, it can make a big
difference. And if more communities follow Wingham’s lead, the benefits can only
IBC and the Wingham Water and Waste Water Facility Chief Operator consulted with the
Maitland Valley Conservation Authority and Environment Canada to establish
measurement criteria for the pilot. The Township of North Huron has installed a Davis
Weather Station Vantage Pro 2 to track the intensity and temperature of rainfall around
the clock. In addition, the station will be used to determine how much the use of rain
barrels reduces the incidence of sewer backups and overflows for each rainfall.
Because rain barrels contribute to water conservation, the pilot will also keep track of
reductions in the use of treated water.
Later this month, IBC will launch an information campaign in Wingham with print and
radio ads to encourage homeowners to take part in the pilot. Additional information
about the pilot project is available at www.ibc.ca and www.northhuron.ca.
Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s
private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent nearly 95%
of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance
industry employs over 110,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the
federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $38
For more information contact:
Ellen Woodger (416) 4832358
James Geuzebroek (416) 3622031 ext. 4364
Township of North Huron