IBC: Old-fashioned rain barrels can help solve a modern-day problem

Saskatoon, SK � June 1, 2012 � A new study released today by Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Wingham, Ontario concludes that the humble rain barrel offers an old-fashioned solution to a modern problem: keeping home water damage down.

The Wingham Rain Barrel Study began with 1,000 rain barrels, one for each homeowner, producing surprising results. In the past, the peak flow through Wingham�s storm water system and sewage treatment plant has exceeded capacity during major storms.

“IBC found that rain barrels, if emptied regularly, could divert 4.5 million litres of rainwater runoff away from a municipality�s sewer system and out of homes, which is great news. But research always takes interesting twists,” said Ralph Palumbo, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “We also learned that people don�t like to empty their rain barrels�and really, a full rain barrel might as well not even be there.”

The study showed that in the process of installing the barrels, an impressive 72% of Wingham�s downspouts were disconnected from the storm and sanitary sewer system, providing immediate relief. Even during heavy rains with direct downspouts disconnected and rain barrels in use, Wingham remained within its storm system capacity.

“I’d like to thank IBC for giving us the opportunity to participate in this important study,” says Neil Vincent, Reeve, Township of North Huron. “This project demonstrates what we can achieve when governments, business and individuals work together toward a common goal.”

Water damage insurance claims have soared to $1.7 billion annually in Canada, surpassing fire as the leading cause of damage to homes. The increase in water damage and severe weather spurred IBC to investigate ways to help communities deal with excess water.

Lessons learned will inform a second study in Stratford, Prince Edward Island, later this year. The second study will include a simple solution to the full barrel problem: a slow-release drain valve allowing the barrels to empty on their own over 24 hours. Wingham study participants will also receive a new drain valve to retrofit their rain barrels.

To view an interview clip with Ralph Palumbo, please click: http://youtu.be/Kb3bGrb4g58
To view a clip about the Wingham Rain Barrel Study, please click: http://youtu.be/Ee2q8763_7Y
To learn about how to install and use a rain barrel (with drainage cap), please click: http://youtu.be/OaJ_mFHVzaA
The Wingham Rain Barrel Study can be found on ibc.ca.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada�s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 114,000 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $40 billion.

To view media releases and information, visit the media section of IBC�s website at www.ibc.ca and for IBC on Twitter follow @insurancebureau.