Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin | 17 September : 9

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The end of stormwater ponds?

Since the 1970s, stormwater management ponds have been used to limit flooding in cities by holding water that is conveyed from urban landscapes through storm sewers. Designs were improved during the 1990s to provide some water quality treatment as well as peak flow control. Wet ponds have remained the primary method of stormwater quantity and quality control in Canadian new developments.

It was never meant to be this way. Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has long recognized that comprehensive stormwater management entails much more than an end-of-pipe pond. For instance, in its 1991 document, Interim Stormwater Quality Control Guidelines for New Development, the MOE states: “Stormwater quality ponds should be considered as the last line of defence and applied only after all opportunities for infiltration of stormwater have been exhausted.”

It’s time for stormwater ponds to evolve.

According to Jay Michels, Project Manager at Emmons & Olivier Resources and expert in Low Impact Development (LID), stormwater ponds should be thought of as one tool in a toolbox for controlling stormwater quantity and quality – not the only tool.

(Click here to read more about the future of stormwater ponds...)

POLL: Is your community encouraging alternatives to wet stormwater ponds yet?

Contribute to the bulletin!

Let us know if you have a green infrastructure project or story that should be featured in the blog, a news item you'd like to share, or an event that Umbrella subscribers would be interested in. You can email us or contribute to the thread in The Umbrella.

Latest news

Kitchener stream transforms from concrete to lush creek. The straight paved channel brought sediment and pollution directly into Victoria Park Lake. A more natural winding stream will slow down the water, and vegetation and rocks will help aerate and filter it. The process starts this week, and should be completed by December. It is just one step in a larger effort to reduce stormwater pollution to the lake.

Green infrastructure goes global. A new guide launched by the United Nations Environment Programme helps decision makers from around the world learn about the benefits, co-benefits, and costs of green infrastructure. It also provides a decision support tool to help cities find the right balance of grey versus green. Read the entire report in The Umbrella or find an overview here.

Creating jobs, showcasing infiltration landscaping. Baltimore is getting buy-in for its stormwater fee and credit system by employing youth to build demonstration rain gardens on high visibility sites. More than 100 rain gardens built to date have helped raise awareness about the problem with stormwater and what residents and businesses can do about it.

Soaking it up on the Green Line in Saint Paul.  Street-side rain gardens, stormwater planters, permeable pavers and a five mile long tree trench along the newly constructed light rail line in Minnesota keep 80 pounds of phosphorus and 40,000 pounds of sediment out of waterways.

How to get your city started with green infrastructure. There's a lot of information out there about the benefits of green infrastructure and how other cities are implementing it. We've created a new Municipal Toolkit with a selection of research reports and sample policies to get decision makers up to speed on the topic. Your comments and suggestions would be welcome.


TRIECA 2015. 25-26 March, 2015. Abstracts due 26 September, 2014.

Living Waters Rally. 3-6 October, 2015. Freshwater lovers, advocates and colleagues will be gathering for four days of education, celebration and inspiration in Ottawa-Gatineau.

60 Years: Connecting our Past, Shaping our Future. 4 October, 2014. Credit Valley Conservation Authority. Includes talks on the history of stormwater management and Depave Paradise.

Long-Term Performance and Life-Cycle Costs of Stormwater Best Management Practices 9 October, 2014. Presenters Scott Taylor of RFB consulting and Nick Tiedeken of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Webinar.

Showcasing British Columbia's Watershed-based approach 30 October, 2014. Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Workshop. Ottawa.

Low Impact Development (LID) Technical Training 3 November, 2014. Full-day training session aims to provide guidance, resources and ‘real-life Ontario’ examples of the design of LID infiltration practices for cold climates. Instructor Chris Denich of Aquafor Beech.

The Umbrella is an online community designed for knowledge-sharing about green stormwater infrastructure. Its members are municipal stormwater professionals, policymakers, academics, engineers, conservation authorities, nonprofits, and interested community members. The Umbrella is managed by Green Communities Canada. Submit an item for an upcoming issue or provide feedback on the bulletin.

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