The watersheds around Spencer Creek, Christie Lake, Valens Lake and other creeks and lakes, connect the communities in Hamilton and are part of the Greenbelt. Studies show that the natural features and functions of these watersheds are under stress.
One major stressor is the impact of impervious surfaces, such as roofs and roads, diverting rainfall from natural water filtration process to pipes and sewers or directly into waterways. This runoff leads to erosion, flooding and water pollution.
Our watersheds need to be healthier and more resilient to the changing climate, which is bringing more frequent and severe floods and droughts. Green Infrastructure is one of the approaches to address these problems, and has the potential to improve water quality, reduce the risk of floods, and ensure our watersheds are more resilient.
To learn more about how Hamilton Conservation Authority approaches green infrastructure, we sat down with Scott Peck, the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer/Director, Watershed Planning & Engineering at Hamilton Conservation.
The Conservation Authority protects and promotes the health of Hamilton’s watersheds through a number of services that range from watershed monitoring to flood control plans. The Conservation Authority also maintains 14 conservation areas, where we can hike, camp, swim, and explore.
Scott outlined that “in the 80s and 90s the approaches to stormwater management boiled down to getting the water off site and gone, but we realized that this approach leads to other problems such as flooding, erosion, and decreased water quality”.
As thinking around stormwater management evolved over time, green infrastructure was identified as a method that is more holistic in nature. “Where you’re not just looking at the engineering side of things, but you are looking at the ecology, how the water relates to the site and off the site”, said Scott.
Rather than immediately directing stormwater off site like a storm sewer system, green infrastructure filters water through the ground system. This process naturally removes pollutants, and lowers the risk of floods and amount of sedimentation in our waterways. At the same time, green infrastructure improves air quality, increases biodiversity and provides a natural habitat for wildlife. These benefits are not provided by traditional infrastructure, which just directs water to a sewer.
Scott mentions that some of the green infrastructure projects that Hamilton Conservation Authority is currently working on include:
Rain Garden Demonstration Site. Hamilton Conservation Authority installed a rain garden demonstration site in Dundas Valley. You can visit the site, and learn more about how to build your own rain garden. If you want to visit the site, all you have to do is visit the Trail Centre at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
Image Credit: Hamilton Conservation Authority. Rain barrels connected to cisterns, part of the rain garden demonstration site.
East Escarpment Wetland Restoration Program. This is an exciting new project, that focuses on large scale green infrastructure to address larger community needs. Hamilton Conservation Authority will create four wetlands in the upper Battlefield Creek and Stoney Creek watershedsto address downstream flooding and erosion in urban Stoney Creek. This initiative will make the communities along those wetlands to be more resilient to climate change, and help reduce the risk of flooding.
Image Credit: Hamilton Conservation Authority, Dundas flooding.
Stormwater Stewardship in Dundas. The Spencer Creek Watershed has been under pressure from urbanization and impervious surfaces, which has resulted in large volumes of stormwater going from pipes into the creek. Hamilton Conservation Authority provides landowners with advice, assistance and links to local resources to reduce and redirect stormwater runoff through green infrastructure.
With the help of Hamitlon Conservation Authority, residents across Hamilton, have undertaken projects that help reduce the amount and clean stormwater in their yards and at the community level. In the fall of 2013, a Dundas resident was concerned about the amount of rainwater that flowed across her property and into her neighbours property because of a non-permeable ornamental pond.
Working with the conservation authority, the resident was able to build a rain garden that allowed stormwater to infiltrate on the property, increased the number of native plants (helping to attract pollinators and to provide a habitat for wildlife), and even plant a small vegetable patch! Find out more.
Interested in reducing the volume of stormwater that enters municipal stormwater infrastructure on your property? Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program can help you develop and/or identify projects that reduce the volume, and improve the quality of water flowing overland and through municipal stormwater infrastructure.
To find out more about the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s work, visit their website.
Want to learn more?