Snowmelt Flooding

Be ready for it! Flood prevention in your home and yard is your responsibility. If the snow melts quickly, your home may be at risk of flooding even if it’s never been flooded before. Snowmelt flooding may also cause contamination of private water sources, such as wells.

Tips to help reduce your risk of a snowmelt flood in your home:

(Some tips involve snow shovelling which is heavy work. Consider doing a bit at a time and please use care and caution. Get help if you have health concerns.)

  • Remove snow from around your foundation. Pay particular attention to the areas around window wells.
  • Most lots drain along the outside edges. Remove snow from these areas.
  • Keep the snow in your yard. Shovelling onto streets or lanes could block drainage.
  • Help keep catch basins clear. Where possible, safely clear snow, ice, and debris from the catch basins in your area.
  • Clear snow and ice from around the bottom of your downspouts and extend downspouts at least two metres so water drains away from your foundation.
  • Check your roof and eavestroughs for excess snow. Consider hiring a professional to clear snow from your roof. A roof rake may help to clear snow and debris from the edge of your roof.
  • Consider using sandbags to block water from entering low lying areas beside your foundation.
  • If water is getting close to your foundation, use an appropriate pump to drain it to the gutter or back lane. Please use all equipment properly and follow safety guidelines.

If your property is flooded:

Frequently Asked Questions

My basement has never flooded before. Am I still at risk for a snowmelt flood?

Yes. If the snow melts quickly, you may be at risk for flooding if you haven’t taken appropriate steps.

Water too close to your basement wall can seep through tiny cracks and create a damp basement, or even damage the foundation of your house. In extreme cases, water may build up in your basement if the path to the City sewer is obstructed.

There’s so much snow in my yard that I can’t move it all. What can I do?

Snow shovelling is heavy work. If you have health concerns, get help from friends, family, neighbours or professionals. Health permitting, consider moving small amounts of snow over several days so it’s not such a big job. Please use caution and care when shovelling snow.

Should I spread snow from my yard onto the street or back lane so it melts faster?

No. More snow on the streets and back lanes will make driving and walking unsafe, and obstruct drainage channels.

In the spring, the catch basin on my street is covered with ice and debris, and the water has nowhere to go. What should I do?

Where possible and safe, help clear snow, ice, and debris from the catch basins in your area. If that is not possible, call your municipality. Crews will come to clear the catch basin as soon they can.

What can I do if there is standing water in my yard?

Ensure that the drainage path from your yard to the street or back lane isn’t blocked with snow or ice, and clear it if required. Consider renting or buying an appropriate pump to drain standing water from your yard to the gutter or back lane. Please use all equipment properly and follow safety guidelines.

Water from my neighbour’s yard comes onto my property during the snowmelt. What can I do?

Talk to your neighbour and plan to work together to channel the water from your properties onto the street or back lane. Ensure you have both removed snow from along the outside edges of your properties.

Where can I find the surface drainage plan for my neighbourhood?

Areas of the City with back lanes do not have such designs, as all lots drain to the street or back lane. Areas of the City where there are no back lanes do have drainage designs. Call the municipality for information on your surface drainage plan.

Adapted with permission from City of Saskatoon.

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario