Help needed to shape integrated water management guidance

Help needed to shape integrated water management guidance

With assistance from Credit Valley Conservation

It’s obvious: water is water — whether it’s in a lake, in your glass, going down your toilet or raining onto your driveway.

Yet municipalities typically deal with water as three separate services: drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. Decisions about each of these services are made separately, with little consideration for the interaction among them.

This doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons. Older cities have wastewater and stormwater pipes that are combined, so that heavy rainfall directly impacts wastewater treatment plants. Even in cities that have separated stormwater and wastewater pipes, leaks and cross connections mean that treatment plants are overloaded during storms.

Local recreational surface waters and drinking water sources are impacted from pollution from both wastewater and stormwater.

And groundwater aquifers (also drinking water sources) can lose their recharge capacity when stormwater is not allowed to infiltrate.

To address this problem, the Province of Ontario enacted the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act (WOA) in 2010. The WOA will require municipalities and other water service providers to prepare water sustainability plans that integrate water, wastewater and stormwater management – known as integrated water management (IWM) or the “one water” approach.

This is a new way of doing things. To date, the Town of Oakville is one of the very few Ontario municipalities to have undergone the IWM process.

To assist with the creation and implementation of these water sustainability plans, Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) and its partners are developing a Water Sustainability Guidance document and a number of case studies. The document is expected to be released early in 2016.

Your input is needed. CVC would like to hear from conservation authority staff, consultants and municipal staff who work in water services. CVC is hosting three webinars, on 24, 25, and 26 August, to get focused feedback from each of these three groups in order to inform the guidance document and case studies. Contact Alex Waterfield if you’re interested in attending.

The Water Sustainability Guidance document will help small, medium and large municipalities meet future demand for municipal water services by providing tools to assist with:

  • collaborative planning for growth, aging infrastructure and climate change;
  • integrating water, wastewater and stormwater services/infrastructure; and
  • applying innovative technologies and practices.

The Water Sustainability Guidance document will build on established asset management and financial reporting (life-cycle costing analysis) practices.

It will help municipalities integrate provincial plans and policies (e.g. source protection plans) with municipal initiatives (e.g. official plans, watershed studies), with a focus on developing water sustainability plans to optimize stormwater infrastructure. This builds capacity and resilience in water, wastewater and stormwater systems.

This blog post was published in The Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin Issue 31.