New Brunswick

A Fredericton man's watergate: portable barrier helps keep river out of the house

A Fredericton man says he's glad of his new, $15,000 tool for keeping his home free of flooding every spring.

'We need new innovation, we need new ways of looking at this'

Maurice Lavigne recently bought a barrier that prevents his home from flooding along the Lincoln Road near Fredericton. (Radio-Canada)

A Lincoln Road resident says he's glad of his $15,000 tool for keeping his home free of flooding every spring.

Maurice Lavigne recently purchased a flood-protection system known as Water-Gate to keep St. John River water out of his house.

"We need new innovation, we need new ways of looking at this so that as it occurs more and more often, we can still live on the river and not be worried that we're going to lose our property," said Lavigne, who lives on the now-high St. John River.

Although the system cost him $15,000, it's been worth every penny, he said.

"If I had water in my walk-in basement, it would cost me a lot more money, time and aggravation to get it fixed," he said.

The flood gate is a portable, self-inflating, reusable water barrier that can be used in place of traditional sandbags, rock or dirt dams to prevent flooding.

Lavigne said the barricade can handle up to a metre of water.

The Lincoln Road resident says government needs to invest technology to prevent houses along the river from flooding. (Radio-Canada)

It's been almost a week since flooding began along the St. John River, water levels have continued to climb in the lower basin, forcing road closures, some school cancellations and home and business evacuations.

New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization said water levels in Fredericton have continued to hover just above eight metres, after peaking at 8.36 metres on Tuesday, and are expected to remain stable into the weekend.

Lavigne said his flood barrier was created by a company in Quebec about 15 years ago.

"I think I have the only one [in the city], if not the only one in New Brunswick," he said. 

'The water's not stopping'

Since water levels are often unpredictable, he said, it's a good way to stay dry and save time.

In 2008, he put up a sand wall around his home, and it took eight to 10 hours to prepare.

"It's a lot better than sandbags because you can deploy within 20 [or] 25 minutes."

The system can be cleaned after the water goes back down and used again in the next flood season.

The Quebec-made Water Gate system cost Lavigne $15,000. (Radio-Canada)

Lavigne said the government should invest in new technologies to prevent homes from getting damaged in floods. 

"We have these problems and we seem to just react after the fact," he said. "Let's do something now in advance and be proactive, it would be a lot more reassuring for people." 

With files from Radio-Canada