Signed in late 2014, the new Canada Ontario agreement confirms support for green infrastructure to improve Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health.
Here's some good news to start off 2015.
The new Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, signed late last month, contains numerous references to green infrastructure and low impact development. Green infrastructure is seen as part of the solution to Great Lakes problems such as high nutrient levels, sediments, and other contaminants.
Ontario specifically commits (p. 19) to update the municipal wastewater policy and approvals process, including: "policies specific to stormwater, green infrastructure, construction runoff and sediment management." Ontario will provide "guidance to facilitate the uptake of innovative source control measures that reduce stormwater volumes and enhance resilience to climate change, such as green infrastructure and low impact development." In fact, the MOECC has recently released a call for bids to create a new LID stormwater design guide.
COA also commits Ontario to encourage "the use of green infrastructure and low impact development early in municipal planning decisions, so that stormwater and climate change adaptation are considered as part of project design and approvals." This latter point speaks to a common concern - that green infrastructure principles and features are often left out of the design and approval process until late in the game, when it is too late to alter plans.
Further, Ontario will "Monitor the performance and effectiveness of stormwater and green infrastructure projects and communicate the results." Monitoring will include co-benefits for pathogen and contaminant reduction.
Under the new COA, Ontario commits to research stormwater (along with sewage treatment plants) as a source of pathogens affecting water for swimming and drinking, and to update policies accordingly.
Tracking and reporting of sewage overflows and bypasses will be improved, and municipalities will be encouraged to complete and implement Pollution Prevention Control Plans.
There are some specific commitments for individual Areas of Concern, including action to reduce contaminants and excessive nutrients in Bay of Quinte and Niagara River through "technical advice, workshops, education and outreach materials, and support for landowner contact programs, environmental stewardship projects and beneficial management practices."
Further, "Ontario will identify opportunities to support pilot and demonstration projects that address identified provincial priorities (such as nutrient recovery, green infrastructure, low impact development, and managing nutrients, wastewater and stormwater) and encourage municipal, industrial and developer uptake of innovative technologies."