Backgrounder – Stormwater Funding Study

October 2013

In August 2013, the City of Guelph started the Stormwater Funding Study to explore alternative ways to pay for its stormwater management program.  The City obtained the services of AECOM, an engineering consulting firm, to assist in the completion of this stormwater funding study. It is expected that the study will be completed in the spring of 2014.

What is stormwater?

Stormwater is rainwater or snowmelt that flows over land after precipitation events.  In natural areas, stormwater can soak into the ground where it lands or be absorbed by vegetation.  In urban areas, most stormwater runs off hard surfaces, carrying pollution into waterways and potentially causing flooding and erosion along the way.  Stormwater must be managed to reduce the risk of flooding and erosion, and to minimize harm to the environment.

How is stormwater currently managed in Guelph?

The City of Guelph is responsible for managing all aspects of stormwater within its jurisdiction, including operations and maintenance of facilities and assets located within the public roadways or easements. Some specific items include:

  • The quality and quantity of stormwater are both managed by the City’s stormwater system, which includes: storm sewers, ditches, inlets, ponds, bridges and culverts, infiltration facilities, oil grit separators, and outlets to the City’s creeks and the Speed River.
  • To ensure continued flood and environmental protection, the stormwater system requires: flood protection projects; maintenance, repair and restoration of existing infrastructure; emergency response and clean-up; street sweeping; by-law enforcement; stream rehabilitation; and the construction of new stormwater management facilities or updates to existing facilities.
  • The City has been adapting its policies and practices in order to meet provincial and federal regulatory requirements. The relevant stormwater rules and regulations include the Ontario Water Resources Act, Ontario Clean Water Act, Ontario Drainage Act, Provincial Water Quality Objectives, Ontario Brownfields Act, Ontario Emergency Management Act, Ontario Water Opportunities Act, Ontario Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and the Canadian Fisheries Act.

What is the purpose of the stormwater funding study?

Aging stormwater infrastructure, funding pressures and increased regulatory requirements mean that the City needs to look for reliable and sustainable ways to fund this stormwater service.  The purpose of this study is to:

  • Evaluate the existing stormwater program costs and determine future costs to provide an appropriate level of service that meets the City’s objectives for flood and environmental protection and regulatory requirements, and satisfies public service expectations.
  • Identify a dedicated and sustainable funding mechanism that allocates stormwater costs fairly and equitably for all properties.
  • Develop an implementation strategy for Council approval.

The study is also intended to support the City of Guelph’s Corporate Strategic Plan Framework. Specifically the following strategic directions: “deliver public services better”; and “ensure a well-designed, safe, inclusive, appealing and sustainable City”.

Who else has undertaken stormwater funding studies?

A number of Ontario municipalities have recently investigated alternative funding options for stormwater, including Kitchener, Waterloo, Stratford, Hamilton, Mississauga, and Markham.

How will the public be involved?

Community engagement is an important part of this study. Public Open Houses, a Stakeholder Advisory Group, and a project webpage are planned to keep you up to date as the study moves forward.

For more information

If you would like any additional information, please contact:

Arun Hindupur, M.Sc., P. Eng.
Infrastructure Planning Engineer
519-822-1260 extension 2282