Rural stormwater management

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What we face

Ottawa is a city of rivers and creeks. Six rivers, four lakes, 55 creeks and hundreds of smaller tributaries flow through it and eventually drain into the Ottawa River. Combined with a low-lying geography, this abundance of water also means that parts of our city are prone to flooding.

When rain falls at an intense rate, our waterways and the ground beneath us can reach a saturation point where they cannot absorb any more water. Communities like Fitzroy Harbour, Constance Bay and Cumberland experienced that first hand in 2017. In the spring, melting snow can be a major contributor.

What we do

Ditches and culverts in Ottawa’s rural areas divert runoff and prevent roads and buildings from flooding. They also help to preserve topsoil and nutrients and keep them on the farmland where they belong.

While stormwater runoff in rural areas infiltrates through a greater number of permeable surfaces, it can be subject to agricultural by-products. Excess fertilizer, pesticides and manure have an impact on surface water sources such as groundwater, streams, lakes, and rivers.

In some rural communities, stormwater ponds collect the runoff and hold it back long enough to allow pollutants to settle and be broken down by bacteria. Cleaner water is then released into nearby waterways.

There are 1,200 km of municipal drains in Ottawa’s rural areas. The City operates and maintains more than 6,000 culverts, most of them in the rural areas. Additionally, Ottawa’s rural communities benefit from 27 stormwater facilities like wet ponds, dry ponds, oil and grit separators and inlet control structures.

More facilities are being added all the time, to help Ottawa’s stormwater infrastructure keep up with the pace of development.