News Local

Stormwater Management plan comes with a price tag

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

Siltation is reducing the effectiveness of the stormwater management pond at Simcoe Rd. and Line 6 in Bradford - identified as a priority for remediation in 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

Siltation is reducing the effectiveness of the stormwater management pond at Simcoe Rd. and Line 6 in Bradford - identified as a priority for remediation in 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury is working on a new Master Plan for its stormwater management, but there will be a price tag attached, to bring the ponds up to new ministerial standards and maintain the municipal stormwater management system.

The Stormwater Management Master Plan is “a couple of years behind time,” Drainage superintendent Frank Jonkman Jr. told BWG Council on October 4 – delays due in part to changes to Ministry of Environment & Climate Change regulations and Environmental Compliance Approvals, and queries from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.

Now, Jonkman said, the final draft is being reviewed, and the Town “has already implemented a number of things,” including an inventory of its stormwater facilities, maintenance of several problem areas, and some housekeeping of records.

“Some of the ponds we'd classify as unknown status,” Jonkman explained, with no documentation showing Environmental Compliance Approval.

He noted that the Ministry of Environment now requires the “owners” of stormwater ponds to clean and maintain the facilities, to prevent a build-up of sediments or overgrowth by vegetation. While some vegetation is beneficial, cutting phosphorus levels, “it's more an overall picture of how our pond is performing.” Too much vegetation or siltation, and the pond can't handle the runoff of major storm events, Jonkman said.

The Town owns 11 “ponds” - 7 types of facilities, ranging from wetlands, to channels, wet or dry ponds. As growth continues, the Town will own “up to 50 ponds,” Jonkman noted, each requiring inspections, log books, regular maintenance schedules, water sampling, monitoring and more – an ongoing expense, that can be reduced by ensuring that new ponds meet standards before they are assumed by the Town.

“Bradford is not unique, in that it has kind of forgotten about stormwater management ponds, until assumption,” he said, noting that the municipality is now engaging with the development community to ensure that they “bring their ponds up to compliance, while they are in development.”

It has been a collaborative effort. “Everybody is playing a role in this,” to ensure that new ponds “are what they are supposed to be, prior to assumption.”

BWG has assessed its stormwater facilities - “some good, some not so bad, some fairly poor” - and identified a priority: the pond at Simcoe Rd. and Line 6. A drawdown of the water levels uncovered 1,950 cu. metres of sediment that must be removed. Remediation will include “rescue” and removal of fish and wildlife; clearing and grubbing of the site; installation of sediment and erosion controls; the removal of the sediments – some of which are considered contaminated and will need special disposal; structural repairs; and pond restoration and naturalization.

The estimated price tag is $400,000, to be considered in the 2017 budget.

“Pond cleaning is... expensive,” Jonkman said, noting that other municipalities, facing rising costs, are looking at different funding models. Brampton is currently the only municipality to collect Development Charges for the future maintenance of its ponds; others, like Mississauga, are instituting “user” fees, levied on individual properties.

Councillor Gary Lamb asked if the excessive siltation in the Simcoe Rd. stormwater pond was a product of construction, on lands upstream.

“It's in poor condition, primarily because of its age and lack of maintenance,” but upstream construction has contributed, Jonkman confirmed.

Mayor Rob Keffer noted that when construction vehicles track mud on Town roads, water trucks have been called in to clean the streets. “Does that go into the Stormwater management pond?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Jonkman, noting, “There are tighter controls that can be put in place to minimize that.”

Council received the report, and referred the proposed work on the Simcoe Rd. stormwater pond to 2017 budget talks.