Photo: Michael Albanese of Avesi Stormwater and Landscape Solutions.

As human beings, we tend to have a love-hate relationship with water. On one hand, water is integral to everything around us—our health, weather patterns, controlling the climate, defining the landscape and transporting nutrients and minerals. On the other hand, water can be disastrous—inclement weather, flooding, water damage, erosion, transporting of pollution and invasive species can all create long lasting and costly setbacks for individuals and communities.

Although we know water flows in creeks and rivers and collects in lakes and oceans, we may not understand its origin and the cycles that transport and filter it. In most cities in North America we are fortunate to have access to tap water. This further complicates our understanding of where our water is coming from and where it goes when it runs down the drain. More importantly many of us don’t fully understand how water flows off of our houses and properties and the impacts this has on the surrounding environment.

For example, if you have an oil leaking from your car onto your driveway, when it rains this oil gets a free ride to the nearest creek. Fertilizing your lawn, washing your car, even forgetting to pick up pet waste has negative impacts on the local creeks and ultimately your drinking water source. In fact some 70% of pollutants found in the Great Lakes has come from surface water run-off.

Cities within Conservation Halton’s watersheds are now focusing on increasing residential density and with that comes an greater footprint of paved and hardened surfaces compared to suburban and rural landscaped. Furthermore, the effects of climate change will bring more frequent and more intense rainfalls followed by longer periods of drought and higher temperatures. These effects compounded by low ratio of permeable surfaces can lead to flooding, drought, erosion, increased surface water runoff and overall poor water quality.

Photo: Michael Albanese of Avesi Stormwater and Landscape Solutions.

The good news is that there are ways to offset these impacts, simply by changing the way you use and allow water to move across your property. These offsetting techniques often include some type of low-impact development infrastructure. Low impact development (LID) is a term used across North America to describe a land planning and engineering design approach to manage stormwater runoff as part of green infrastructure. LID emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water quality.

For years, the stewardship staff at Conservation Halton have been looking for ways to help landowners address stormwater issues on their property. They met with landowners who they knew could benefit from LID projects,  met with local LID specialists, worked with conservation authority and city engineers and attended LID workshops, webinars, tradeshows and seminars to understand how they could help implement similar projects in our watersheds

In 2015, the stewardship and outreach staff at Conservation Halton organized a series of workshops called “Healthy Neighboursheds”. These workshops were established to educate residents about the economic and ecological impacts of stormwater management, the benefits of using native species to help pollinators and other wildlife and on-the ground examples of initiatives happening in their community. These workshops were well-attended and well-received but they didn’t appear to result in any LID projects, as stewardship and outreach staff had hoped they would.

Staff came to understand that these landowners wanted LID on their properties but didn’t have the time and confidence to implement their own projects and didn’t have the money to hire someone to do it for them. Also, there was no real incentive to implement LID projects, other than property protection . This is what inspired the staff at Conservation to find money to help homeowners get LID projects in the ground.

The staff at Conservation Halton submitted a grant proposal  to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. In the summer of 2017, the Ministry agreed to provide 50 percent of the cost, up to $2,500, to any homeowner in the Waterdown area who attended the Healthy Neighbourshed Workshop series and wanted to implement an LID project on the property. This has since been extended to anyone living in Waterdown (east of Highway 6, south of Parkside Drive, north of Mountain Brow Road and west of Kerns Road) and it is also likely that this grant will be extended into the Chedoke and Cootes area of Hamilton to reduce impacts into Cootes Paradise in 2018.

The projects that are eligible for this grant include the creation of rain gardens, bioswales, soakaway pits and permeable pavement and driveways. The grant offers money for materials and supplies, contractor fees and equipment rentals.

If you have any questions about the Waterdown Conservation Fund or are interested in applying please email stewardship@hrca.on.ca

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Last modified: November 29, 2017

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