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Ontario municipalities need to upgrade stormwater infrastructure, says report


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The Ontario Environmental  Commissioner, Dianne Saxe, warned that municipalities in the province are not allocating enough funds to manage their stormwater systems. The Commissioner’s report, “Urban Stormwater Fees: How to Pay for What We Need,” says that municipalities are facing a $6.8-billion deficit to repair the existing stormwater infrastructure.

To overcome that shortfall Saxe calls on the province to require municipalities to charge property owners a separate stormwater fee based on the volumes of run-off water their properties generate.  Some municipalities such as Kitchener-Waterloo and Mississauga have already imposed these fees, which can range between approximately $4 and $15 per month for an average home.

Saxe also urges the Ontario government to require municipalities to prepare asset management plans for their stormwater infrastructure. She says the province should mandate that all municipalities prepare the plans for their “grey” stormwater infrastructure such as pipes and drains, and for their “green” infrastructure such as wetlands, green roofs, permeable pavement, etc. Through such plans they would know what their actual costs are and how much money they need to recover from special stormwater taxes.

The commissioner conducted a survey, and 40% of the municipalities that responded did not have asset management plans in place for stormwater infrastructure.

Without adequate drainage, stormwater run-off during heavy rains and snowmelt can cause floods, water pollution, and the erosion of river and stream banks.

“Without better municipal funding models for stormwater, our future will include more overland and basement flooding, sewage bypasses, beach closure days, and sediment in lakes and rivers,” Saxe wrote.

To download the report, click here.