Many Alberta communities face challenges when it comes to stormwater management. Extreme rainfall and extended droughts make the need to conserve, manage, and reuse stormwater especially important.
Recently, Council agreed to participate in a Chestermere Drought Resilient Low-impact Development pilot study, proposed by the Bow River Basin Council (BRBC). If it moves forward, the pilot will collect stormwater runoff from public areas, using bio filtration to store it below the surface, and then release it back into the landscape with solar powered pumping and irrigation.
“It sounds a lot more complicated than it is,” explains Jennifer Massig, the City Councillor who brought forward the proposal at the February 6 Council Meeting. “All we want to do is make better use of the water we get through rainfall so that it can be redistributed in the environment more naturally. It offers a more cost effective way to irrigate and maintain the beautiful parks, gardens, and green spaces that make Chestermere such a beautiful place to call home.”
As Chestermere continues to develop its residential and commercial areas, it is more difficult for rainwater to follow its natural course to replenish the watershed. This pilot will address some of the challenges our community faces during floods or dry periods. It will focus on public property and areas, such as boulevards, parks, and commercial developments.
“Longer periods of warm weather mean we need to water our grass more often. Ideally, we would like to use natural sources instead of our drinking water to do this,” says Massig. “The pilot will also help eliminate dirt, and contaminants caused by development, from entering our lake or watershed. In theory, we will make our wetlands healthier and release higher quality stormwater run-off to our natural water resources.”
The City has been asked to host the pilot site by providing land and site maintenance as in-kind contributions. The BRBC will cover and seek funding for the bulk of the costs for this work. The City will support BRBC’s funding efforts with the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP).
“If BRBC’s proposal doesn’t get accepted this go-round, the partners involved will likely bring it forward again this fall,” says Massig. “As a Council, we believe this initiative is worthwhile as it supports the watershed and stormwater goals the City is trying to achieve with minimal impact to the budget.”
If the BRBC receives the funding it requires to proceed, construction is anticipated to begin in 2018 with the full study finishing in 2020.