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Watershed study calls for more stormwater protection for Ramsey Lake

Retrofits worth $20-$30M would improve protection of city's major source of drinking water

A multi-year initiative looking at how to protect and improve the watersheds in several key lakes in Greater Sudbury has issued several recommendations, including for Ramsey Lake.

Ramsey has become a particular area of concern in recent years, acting both as the source of drinking water for much of the city, and the site of several residential developments that put stress on the water quality.

A report headed to city council Aug. 13 recommends the city focus on two areas to protect the lake: retrofitting stormwater management facilities in areas of Ramsey that absorb stormwater during major weather events, and tougher rules for developers wishing to build beside Ramsey.

“The report recommends several additional stormwater management retrofit projects on major stormwater outfalls to the lake through the master plan,” the report says. “These conceptual projects have a preliminary cost of $20 to $30 million.

“In addition to these large stormwater management retrofits, low-impact development approaches to stormwater management are recommended for consideration when a street is scheduled for reconstruction.”

Developers, who are already expected to ensure no additional stormwater enters the lake as a result of the new construction, could also be asked to go a step further, and build stormwater management ponds that are deep enough to actually reduce stormwater drainage into the lake.

“Going forward developers could be asked to mimic the natural system, or a water balance approach, meaning some portion of stormwater may have to remain on the site and not reach the lake, while the remainder would be treated,” the report said. “This will require developers to consider low-impact development strategies to the extent that the geographical conditions allow this as a viable approach.”

In addition to Ramsey, the report had recommendations for Junction Creek, the 52-kilometre waterbody that crosses several parts of the city. Long-term environmental improvements and local efforts to clean Junction have had a positive impact, the report said.

The report recommends focus on flood prevention, which has historically been a problem downtown and in the Flour Mill. Funding has been secured through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, which is paid for by the city and the federal government. 

The $13 million project “will improve flood resiliency in the Flour Mill and New Sudbury and enhance the existing environmental condition,” the report said.

Further projects to protect against flooding fears have been identified through the watershed study, worth roughly $70 million.

“Many of the flood resiliency projects also improve the quality of stormwater reaching Junction Creek and enhance natural habitat,” the report said. “The watershed plan also provide recommended conditions for new development. New development would be addressed in the same manner as described for Ramsey Lake consistent with best practices across North America.”

The recommendations will go to public consultations before being incorporated into a long-term master plan to protect the city's watershed. Read the full report here


Darren MacDonald

About the Author: Darren MacDonald

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