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Ottawa River Action Plan

The health of the Ottawa River is a priority of the City of Ottawa. Protecting the Ottawa River means:

  • Maintaining a healthy aquatic ecosystem
  • Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Optimizing recreational use and reducing beach closures
  • Developing a long-term strategy to guide and prioritize actions

The City is working to reduce the impact of both combined sewage overflows and storm water on the Ottawa River. The Ottawa River Action Plan (ORAP) consists of 17 individual projects aimed at enhancing the health of the Ottawa River and protecting Ottawa’s water environment for future generations.

Projects and status updates

Ottawa River Action Plan

Significant progress has been made to date, with 10 ORAP projects already complete and all others underway.

A major achievement has been made towards one of ORAP’s objectives of limiting Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) through the implementation of Project 1: Real Time Control, with a reduction of over 80% in measured CSO volumes from 2006 to 2015.

The following 17 Projects form the Ottawa River Action Plan

Project

Status

  1. Implementation of Real Time Control (RTC)

Complete

  1. Critical CSO and Storm Outfall Monitoring

Complete

  1. CSO Storage for Ultimate Combined Sewer Area

Ongoing

  1. Review and Implement Sewer Interconnection Program

Complete

  1. Sewer Separation outside of the UCSA

Ongoing

  1. Development of a Wet Weather Infrastructure Management Plan

Complete

  1. Implementation of a Wet Weather Infrastructure Management Plan

Ongoing

  1. Installation of Floatable Traps in Combined Sewer Area Catchbasins

Complete

  1. Pinecrest Creek/Westboro Stormwater Management Retrofit Plan

Complete

  1. Eastern Subwatersheds Stormwater Management Retrofit Plan

Ongoing

  1. Implementation of Stormwater Management Retrofit Plans

Ongoing

  1. Effluent Dechlorinization

Complete

  1. Water Environment Strategy

Complete

  1. Monitoring and Source Control Programs

Ongoing

  1. Wastewater and Drainage Environmental Quality Management System

Complete

  1. Updates to Bacterial Water Quality Computer Model

Complete

  1. Public Outreach and Education

Ongoing

 Ottawa River view

Project 1: Implementation of Real Time Control - Complete

Real Time Control allows for continuous monitoring of pipe flows and automated control of equipment. This project upgraded three combined sewer flow regulators with Real Time Control systems that can remotely re-direct sewage and stormwater to the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre (ROPEC) for treatment during wet weather.

Real Time Control has reduced combined sewer overflows by approximately 80% between 2006 and 2015.

Project 2: Critical Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) and Storm Outfall Monitoring - Complete

This project installed sensors in the six largest combined sewer outfalls to measure the volume of incoming flow, captured flow, and over-flow. Data is communicated on a real-time basis to the central control centre and used to prioritize future projects.

Project 3: Combined Sewer Storage Tunnel for Ultimate Combined Sewer Area (UCSA)

The Combined Sewer Storage Tunnel will provide additional storage capacity to reduce overflow activity and then redirect stored wastewater to the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre (ROPEC) for treatment. The storage project will focus on combined sewer overflows within the UCSA. CSO storage facilities will lower the amount of contaminants released to the Ottawa River, improving the water quality and reducing the number of beach closures.  

Project 4: Review and Implement Sewer Interconnection Program - Complete

Older sewers had interconnections between sanitary and storm sewers to prevent basement flooding. This review determined interconnections requiring readjustment or  removal. As a result of this assessment, a flow diversion project was completed at the Alvin Heights CSO outfall to reduce overflow risk.

Project 5: Sewer Separation Outside the Ultimate Combined Sewer Area (UCSA)

Sewer separation is the replacement of a single sewer with two separate sanitary and storm water sewers. To date approximately 60% of the original combined sewer area has undergone sewer separation. Separation continues in all areas except the Ultimate Combined Sewer Area (UCSA). The largest areas yet to undergo sewer separation are West Rockcliffe, Manor Park, King Edward/Rideau, Old Ottawa East (Greenfield, Echo, Concord, Harvey), Somerset/Wellington, and NRC/RCAF (Federal Jurisdiction).

Project 6: Development of a Wet Weather Infrastructure Management Plan (WWIMP) - Complete

Periods of heavy rainfall impact city infrastructure, private property, public health and the environment. The WWIMP manages wet weather flows and mitigates the adverse effects on our wastewater and stormwater collection systems. Additional issues addressed in this plan included basement and surface flooding, environmental protection, system operation and maintenance, and capacity for intensification.

Project 7: Implementation of a Wet Weather Infrastructure Management Plan (WWIMP)

The WWIMP includes an implementation plan that aims to reduce the impacts of flooding and wet weather flows on public health, beaches, the environment, and personal property.

Project 8: Installation of Floatable Traps in Combined Sewer Area Catchbasins - Complete

A total of 3,200 floatables traps have been installed to capture floatables, as well as oil and grease before they enter the combined sewer system.

Project 9: Pinecrest Creek/Westboro Stormwater Management Retrofit Plan - Complete

The Pinecrest Creek/Westboro SWM Retrofit Plan seeks to decrease the impact of stormwater on Pinecrest Creek and the Ottawa River.

 

Project 10: Eastern Subwatersheds Stormwater Retrofit Plan

The Eastern Subwatershed Stormwater Retrofit Plan seeks to decrease the impact of stormwater on the Eastern Subwatersheds and the adjacent Ottawa River. Creeks found in the Eastern Subwatershed (Bilberry, Voyageur and Green's) experience increased flooding, erosion, and degraded water quality as a result of uncontrolled runoff.

Project 11: Implementation of Stormwater Management (SWM) Retrofit Plans

This program will implement and prioritize SWM Retrofit Plans. These projects will decrease the impacts of uncontrolled stormwater runoff on the urban area.

Project 12: R.O. Pickard Environmental Centre Effluent Dechlorination - Complete

Chlorine is used as the final disinfectant of treated wastewater prior to discharge to the Ottawa River from the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre (ROPEC). Regulations from the Ministry of the Environment state that residual chlorine concentration in treated wastewater must not exceed 0.02mg/L. A new dechlorination process was installed  to meet these allowable concentrations, resulting in positive impacts to the flora and fauna downstream of ROPEC.

Project 13: Water Environment Strategy- Complete

The Water Environment Strategy (WES) was approved by Council in June 2016 and seeks to protect the health of the city’s waterways, wetlands and groundwater by reducing the impacts of human activity. A healthy water environment:

  • Provides safe, abundant drinking water;
  • supports agriculture, recreation and tourism;
  • lessens the impact of flood events; and,
  • helps sustain fish and wildlife.

Project 14: Monitoring and Source Control Programs

This project continues the work of the City's Water Environment Protection Program (WEPP) and Sewer Use Program.

Project 15: Wastewater and Drainage Environmental Quality Management System - Complete

This project involved the design of an environmental management system to conform with the International ISO 14001 Standard, enabling the City to:

  • Identify and control significant environmental impacts
  • Continually improve its environmental performance
  • Better set environmental objectives and targets
  • Demonstrate achievement of its objectives and targets

Project 16: Updates to the Ottawa River Bacterial Water Quality Computer Model - Complete

The Ottawa River Bacterial Water Quality Model allows the City to:

  • Understand current river response and behaviour
  • Assess, measure and mitigate CSO and stormwater inputs
  • Identify priorities
  • Evaluate improvement strategies

This project established frequency of model updates and expanded the scope of monitored parameters beyond bacteria.

Project 17: Public Outreach and Education

Increase public awareness of ORAP initiatives and communicate residents’ relationship between their actions and the health of Ottawa’s water environment.

Successes to date

Significant progress has been made to date, with 10 ORAP projects already complete and all others underway.

Reducing Combined Sewer Overflows:

A major achievement has been made towards one of ORAP’s objectives of limiting Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) through the implementation of Project 1: Real Time Control. A reduction of 80% in measured CSO volumes was achieved between 2006 and 2015.

Reducing Floatables:

3,200 floatables traps have been installed in catch basins throughout the City of Ottawa. These traps will reduce the visual pollution and potential harm to wildlife that floatables can cause.

Reducing Stormwater Impacts:

The Pinecrest Creek/Westboro Stormwater Management Retrofit Plan is now complete. The plan provides a strategy to mitigate the impacts of uncontrolled urban runoff to the Ottawa River. Stormwater will be controlled at its source: within developed areas, within the right of way and using end of pipe facilities. The plan also serves as a methodology to be applied to future retrofit plans.

Improving Wastewater Treatment:

The R.O. Pickard Environmental Centre Effluent Dechlorinization project is complete. A dechlorinization process is now in operation to meet allowable concentrations of chlorine in the Ottawa River. The removal of residual chlorine from the effluent will have a positive impact on flora and fauna down-stream of the ROPEC outfall. The City is well ahead of regulatory deadlines.

Measuring and Monitoring:

Measurement and monitoring of the City’s success with ORAP remains ongoing. A long term Water Environment Strategy was approved by Council in June 2016. It establishes 20-year goals and objectives and sets priorities for 2016-2018.

How can I reduce my impact on local waterways?

Indoors

  • Try to use less water during your daily activities.
  • Eat local and organic. Support local farmers who practice sustainable organic farming methods.
  • Put cooled cooking oil and grease in your Green Bin, NOT in your sink or toilet.
  • Take paint and motor oil to a Take It Back! retailer or to a Household Hazardous Waste Depot
  • Use environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
  • Take unused medicine to a pharmacy listed in the City’s Take it Back! program.
  • Wrap tampons, pads and condoms in tissue and put them in the garbage.

Outdoors

  • Never pour or put anything in a catch basin.
  • Collect leaves and yard waste to keep your street’s catch basins free.
  • Wash your car at the car wash where wastewater is collected and treated.
  • Sweep your driveway and sidewalk instead of hosing it.
  • Go easy on road salt, fertilizers, and herbicides.
  • Don’t litter. Debris floats through pipes to the river.
  • Stoop and scoop after your cats and dogs.
  • Do not feed the birds at the beach.
  • Properly maintain your vehicle to prevent oil and other leaky fluids from running to the sewer or catch basin.
  • Compost to reduce landfill and create environmentally friendly fertilizer
  • Direct water from downspouts and eavestroughs to a rain barrel.  Install a rain barrel to reduce stormwater run-off and capture rain water for future use.