PEI

Stormwater demonstration project built in Charlottetown

A patch of grass and pavement next to Simmons Sports Centre in Charlottetown is now a demonstration project on ways to reduce stormwater runoff.

'These sites will be in until they stop working,' says project co-ordinator Jamie McCamon

This section of asphalt will be replaced by porous or permeable pavement as part of the demonstration project. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

A patch of grass and pavement next to Simmons Arena in Charlottetown is now a demonstration project on ways to reduce stormwater runoff and cut down on water pollution.

The Charlottetown project is one of three in the Maritimes. Similar projects are underway in Moncton, N.B., and Sydney, N.S., all part of the Atlantic Stormwater Initiative.

"In a city or an urban area, if you look around you can see that there's a lot of asphalt, a lot of hard surfaces. Water is directed into stormwater drains and catch basins," said Jamie McCamon, the project co-ordinator.

"Along the way it's picking up whatever's in the parking lot, oil and little bits of stuff, takes it into the catch basin and eventually into the river or oceans and we have more pollution."

Jamie McCamon is the Atlantic Stormwater Initiative Coordinator, installing demonstration projects in Moncton, Charlottetown and Sydney. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

The current stormwater system is also designed to capture the water quickly, said McCamon, not giving it a chance to soak into the ground.

The project is meant to showcase options, like permeable asphalt and concrete, other than tradition hard surfaces.

Long-term project

The parking lot at Simmons has had an issue with flooding, even onto the land, and was also selected for its high visibility.

It is important for residents to see that, because we do have lots of people that experience flooding.- Ramona Doyle

There will be catch basins or drains under permeable surfaces, which will allow researchers from UPEI to monitor the quality and quantity of the water being collected.

As part of the demonstration project, there is also a bioswale, which is a form of ditch that lets the water collect and soak into the ground gradually.

It will also allow them to see how long the systems last — and how much maintenance they need.

These basins will be installed to catch stormwater so UPEI researchers can monitor the quality and quantity that is being collected. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"This project, these sites will be in until they stop working. It's a long-term project,"said McCamon. 

"They're for demonstration purposes so the cities can have a place to show people what is available for use rather than hard surfaces," said McCamon.

Being greener

Ramona Doyle, sustainability officer for the City of Charlottetown, said the project will hopefully show "a lot of different types of green infrastructure" that can help the city retain water, allowing it to percolate into the groundwater supply.

The demonstration could also help show residents how they can be more green, Doyle said.

This area next to Simmons Arena will be turned into a bioswale, a kind of ditch that allows the water to sink slowly back into the aquifer. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"It is important for residents to see that, because we do have lots of people that experience flooding on their property," said Doyle.

"They can look at smaller-scale options like rain gardens or different kinds of berms and plantings that would help them retain that water rather than having it sit still on their property."

The demonstration project cost about $50,000 with in-kind donations from local construction companies, as well as the City of Charlottetown and volunteers from the Hillsborough River watershed group.

The City of Charlottetown, in partnership with Clean Foundation and Green Communities Canada, is hosting a workshop on green stormwater management on Oct. 25.