Waterfront wetland improves Lake Ontario water quality - naturally!|
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Today, Mayor David Miller visited the site of the new western beaches waterfront at Ellis Avenue and Colborne Lodge Drive. This wetland will improve the quality of stormwater runoff naturally.
“Toronto’s waterfront is undergoing a renaissance at the moment. This project is part of the revitalization of our waterfront and the City’s plans to reclaim the lake for all Torontonians,” said Mayor Miller. “The wetlands are designed to treat stormwater pollution and also bring natural beauty and bio-diversity to the city.”
The wetland is part of the City of Toronto’s Wet Weather Flow Master Plan approved by City Council in 2003. The plan is one of the largest planning processes ever undertaken to address the impacts associated with stormwater and sewer overflow. The goal of the plan is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the adverse effects of wet weather flow - stormwater runoff.
“The City is doing its part to improve lake water quality,” said Mayor Miller. “This project is an exciting addition to the waterfront initiatives, and is a clear sign that the revitalization of the waterfront is well underway.”
Pollution, such as oil, grease and pet waste, is picked up by flowing stormwater and ends up in creeks, rivers and Lake Ontario, often causing our beaches to be unsafe for swimming. Other problems can include erosion of riverbanks and loss of fish habitat.
Residents can also help reduce stormwater pollution by disconnecting their eavestrough downspout from the sewer system, eliminating the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens, and stooping and scooping pet waste.
The Toronto Waterfront Revitalization initiative includes 10 kilometres along the water’s edge: 500 acres of new parks and open spaces; a waterfront promenade reserved for public enjoyment; 40,000 housing units, at least twenty-five per cent of which will be affordable housing; 7.6 million square feet of new commercial space; and 30,000 new permanent jobs.
Senior Communications Co-ordinator
Improving Lake Ontario water quality – naturally!
Ellis Avenue and Colborne Lodge Drive Stormwater Management Facilities
The Ellis Avenue and Colborne Lodge Drive Stormwater Management Facilities are one of the larger projects currently under construction as part of the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan. Once completed, these treatment facilities will significantly improve the quality of water flowing into Lake Ontario, near Sunnyside Beach.
These facilities will treat the stormwater flowing from the areas bounded by Bloor Street to the north, Ellis Avenue to the west and Colborne Lodge Drive to the east, as well as runoff from parts of Lakeshore Blvd.
In a natural setting, where there is grass or vegetation, stormwater is not usually a problem because the rain filters into the ground. In a large city with concrete, asphalt and brick, water travels along these hard surfaces and flows into roadside grates (catchbasins). Once it enters the grate – having collected dirt, oil, grease and other pollutants along the way – it travels through the storm sewer system directly to the lake untreated. The result is degraded water quality conditions, stream bank erosion and loss of fish habitat, basement flooding and poor beach water quality.
Stormwater ponds and wetland systems consist of a sediment forebay followed by a wet pond/wetland area. Stormwater enters the facility and heavier material carried by the stormwater settles in the sediment forebay area. Then, the slightly cleaner stormwater enters the wet pond/wetland area, where the stormwater continues to be treated: finer material in suspension is given an opportunity to settle out and other pollutants are absorbed by the wetland vegetation before the cleaned stormwater flows out of the facility to the lake.
No pumps are used to move the water through these treatment facilities – water is moved using gravity. The facilities are designed so that water flows using only the grading of the land.
The facilities are located in the following areas:
- Colborne Lodge Drive and Lakeshore Blvd.: A wetland to treat stormwater flow from the Colborne Lodge and Lakeshore Blvd. area. The stormwater will be pre-treated by an oil and grit separator.
- Adjacent to the Humber River: A wetland and forebay will treat stormwater flows from Lakeshore Blvd. and Colborne Lodge Drive.
- Rennie Park: A wetland and forebay, along with creek restoration, will treat stormwater flows from the Swansea neighbourhood and north to Bloor Street.
- Southwest section of Grenadier Pond: A wetland and forebay will treat stormwater flows from Ellis Avenue.
- Bottom of Ellis Avenue: A wetland will treat stormwater flows from Ellis Avenue.
In 2003, the City of Toronto approved the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan. The plan is one of the largest planning processes ever undertaken to address the impacts associated with stormwater and combined sewer overflow discharges within a large urban centre. The goal of the plan is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the adverse effects of wet weather flow – runoff that is generated when it rains or snows.
The Wet Weather Flow Master Plan contains 13 objectives for improvement under four major categories: water quality; water quantity; natural areas and wildlife; and sewer systems. A 25-year plan has been established with an estimated cost of $40 million per year. The benefits of this plan include:
- waterfront beaches that are clean and healthy for swimming
- elimination of discharges from combined sewer overflows
- basement flooding protection
- protection of City infrastructure from stream erosion
- restoration of degraded local streams and improvement in water quality
- reduction in algae growth along the waterfront and in streams
- restoration of aquatic habitats
The development of the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan followed the planning principles of the Environmental Assessment Act and incorporated broad public and agency consultation on all aspects of the Plan development.
This project is part of the City’s waterfront initiatives, including the development of the West Don Lands, construction of the Western Beaches watercourse, clean-up and greening improvements in the Port Lands, and the build-out of parks on the Leslie Street Spit and the Port Union waterfront.
The International Joint Commission identified Toronto as one of 43 areas of concern around the Great Lakes, indicating that efforts were required to restore environmental quality. As a result, a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was prepared for the restoration of the polluted waterways and waterfront in Toronto. In developing the RAP, it was recognized that wet weather flow was a significant contributor to the pollution of the waterways and waterfront. The goal of the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan is to ensure the city’s streams, rivers and waterfront are cleaner and healthier, with an aim towards de-listing Toronto as an ‘Area of Concern’ within the Great Lakes Basin.
When completed, the total cost of the Ellis Avenue and Colborne Lodge Drive Stormwater Management Project will be $5.9 million dollars.