Smart Solutions From a Local Team You Can Trust

For many years, study team members have lived and worked in Collingwood. Our team is committed to providing timely answers and solutions to complex stormwater issues that also have regard for climate change. The study is intended to help fellow residents and business owners reduce their risk to flooding from extreme weather events while also saving them money.

The first component of our pilot project includes installing multiple SafeSump systems within key neighbourhoods at high risk from basement flooding. While real-time data is being collected by our team from all SafeSump systems, the Town of Collingwood will be undertaking a concurrent Sanitary Sewer Master Planning Study. This other project will include a comprehensive sanitary sewer monitoring program and objective to identify extraneous Inflow and Infiltration (aka ‘I/I’) sources. Similar to Collingwood, I/I sources are a significant problem for many Canadian municipalities because it:

 
  1. Reduces the capacity of the sewage system leaving less for existing residents and future growth;
  2. Makes sewage treatment less efficient since the sewage is diluted by stormwater/groundwater;
  3. Increases the cost of wastewater treatment since treatment plants are required to treat a higher flow volume, therefore requiring greater energy demands and causing higher GHG emissions; and,
  4. May cause sewage treatment plant overflows or overwhelm treatment plant operations during extreme weather events leading to health risks and significant property and environmental damage.

Objectives

  • Better stormwater management
  • Assessing the homeowner impact in terms of reduced risk of flooding
  • Improved fact-based decision-making re. stormwater mitigation techniques
  • Mitigating the property damage from stormwater activity
  • Reducing stress on existing municipal systems
  • Companies realizing opportunities to help homeowners mitigate flooding damage
  • Our project attracts other water technology companies to Collingwood, creating a water technology cluster in the region
  • Educate homeowners about basement flooding and stormwater risk prevention
  • Utilizing advanced “smart” technologies and LID features to reduce risk on a homeowner and municipal level
  • Removal of non-compliant connections to the sanitary sewer to relieve pressure on Town assets

Environmental Benefits

This pilot project will identify key homeowner initiatives that can reduce inflows of stormwater into the sanitary sewer system, so that a broader municipal initiative can be implemented later on.  The scale of this broader project aims to reduce stormwater runoff by 50% during 24 hour rainfall events – thereby, dramatically reducing the probability of overloading current infrastructure systems which have been (in the past) the major cause of untreated sewage releases into Georgian Bay from the Collingwood Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP).  

Stormwater has become a major issue as weather patterns become less predictable and more extreme. In the South Georgian Bay region where the Town of Collingwood is located, heavier winter snowfalls and more frequent snowmelt plus rainfall events, and combined with an increasing population, have made flooding mitigation for our growing community a high priority. The proximity of the water table to the ground surface in Collingwood during spring freshet periods also amplifies the risk of local flooding from 24-hour rainfall events and more extreme weather events.

Available data from other municipalities such as Hagersville, Ontario indicates that inflow and infiltration source from private properties may account for a significant portion of the storm event’s daily flow rates that a sewage treatment plant receives, which can be seven (7 times greater than the average flow rate).

Some municipalities have considered addressing this issue through major capital investments to increase the capacity of their WWTP assets.  Others have tried to provide homeowner incentives to mitigate inflow to the sewer systems through disconnection programs only.  There are none, however, who have investigated individual properties and connected municipal infrastructure as a “unified system” that together can reduce sewer systems inflows using a combination of lot-level (at-source) LID and/or SDRT (aka “Smart De-Risking Technology”, such as the SafeSump and RainGrid products) installations and which can be monitored/modeled on a real-time basis to understand the full impact.

Some municipalities have considered addressing this issue through major capital investments to increase the capacity of their WWTP assets.  Others have tried to provide homeowner incentives to mitigate inflow to the sewer systems through disconnection programs only.  There are none, however, who have investigated individual properties and connected municipal infrastructure as a “unified system” that together can reduce sewer systems inflows using a combination of lot-level (at-source) LID and/or SDRT (aka “Smart De-Risking Technology”, such as the SafeSump and RainGrid products) installations and which can be monitored/modeled on a real-time basis to understand the full impact.

Developing a continuous simulation model output of baseline 24-hour storm runoff volume for the target pilot area sites and extrapolating this data to the entire community is a critical environmental output of our study. Our in-house modeling tools will integrate collected data, including long-term rainfall records, inter-event times (between rainfall events), baseline ground infiltration and infiltration recovery rates.  These factors are important to increase the probability of achieving the 50% target stormwater reductions with a future municipal project roll-out of the pilot study’s proposed LID and SDRT installations and via property flood prevention incentive program by the Town of Collingwood.

 

Therefore, our initial pilot project will examine two (2) concurrent/related residential and industrial/commercial/institutional (ICI) lot level (or at source) initiatives, namely:

  1. Eliminating stormwater runoff that would normally drain uncontrolled to the Town’s aging sewer system and drainage infrastructure;
  2. Reducing extraneous stormwater (inflows) to the Town’s Waste Water Treatment Plant and preventing the release of untreated sewage into Georgian Bay during extreme weather events. In terms of the latter, a release occurred in the spring of 2016 to the Collingwood Harbour and which is used for swimming, fishing, boating and other recreational activities. It is believed that these excessive inflows to the WWTP were because of non-compliant connected residential sump pumps draining high water table flows and discharging to the sanitary system; and,
  3. Finally, our project will monitor Low Impact Development (LID) and new/niche SDRT technologies for use at a select number of residential and ICI properties. Effort will be made to disperse the installations throughout the community so that data results can be extrapolated to other areas. The proposed number of LID and SDRT installations will include:

Three (3) rain gardens (to be constructed) at residential sites and to reduce lot level stormwater runoff by 50 – 75% during 24 hours rainfall events. Stormwater infiltration will be monitored using piezometer installed devices;

Two (2) permeable stormwater parking lot designs (now constructed) within a commercial site and institutional property to reduce at-source stormwater runoff by 50 – 75 % during 24 hours rainfall events. The commercial site that will be monitored is owned by Greenland Consulting Engineers, while the other permeable parking lot is located at the Collingwood Trinity United Church. The Church parking lot was constructed in 2016 with post-construction (performance) monitoring in the spring and summer 2017. Greenland Consulting Engineers was the engineer-of-record for both permeable parking lots. Stormwater infiltration and flows will be monitored using piezometers within catch-basins;

Ten (10) Internet-based and real-time monitored home roof rainwater (RainGrid) cisterns to be installed at residential sites and to reduce lot level stormwater runoff by 50 – 75% during 24 hours rainfall events. Each SDRT will be located outside (and maintained) during non-winter periods. This proprietary SDRT includes climate prediction capabilities so each “smart rain barrel” can be discharged automatically before any significant rainfall event. Otherwise, the harvested stormwater runoff from each roof (during spring/summer/fall) periods can be used for lawn watering, car washing or other on-site non-potable water use by homeowners: and,

Up to Seventy-five (75) Internet-based and 24/7 monitored home basement sump pump (SafeSump) systems to be installed at residential sites and to reduce (100%) extraneous inflows conveyed to the Town’s sanitary sewer system and WWTP. Monitored data from each SDRT will be used to also help validate an independent review of the Town’s wastewater infrastructure and completed during a concurrent Master Servicing Plan study by the Town of Collingwood.

Community Benefits

By decreasing stormwater stress on municipal sewer infrastructure, need for capital and operating cost increases can be avoided.
Project leverages local companies, providing with stimulus to innovate and become more competitive
By developing a new “smart” home solution, new skilled trades and engineering employment opportunities will be created at Huronia, Greenland and SafeSump™ to name just a few. The opportunity to give these companies a competitive technical advantage creates jobs locally and regionally.
Flooded basements have been a significant negative factor for hundreds of residents over the last few years. By introducing the SafeSump™ internet technology in combination with water mitigation systems like rain gardens, “smart” rain cisterns and permeable parking lots, these challenges to the home can be drastically reduced or eliminated.
Research and industry teams affiliated with the University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, IBM Global Services, WaterTAP and Communitech are keenly watching the role-out of the pilot study since it has potential of supporting concurrent home flood de-risking partnerships in Ontario that involve Greenland International Consulting Ltd. Our team’s ultimate goal and with support from the Town of Collingwood is to use the pilot study’s integrated solution foundation to help create later a “Living Laboratory Water Research and Business Ecosystem” based in Collingwood and identify other Canadian communities with complimentary companies and pilot site environments. For example, the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (ICCA) with its nationally renowned Home Assessment and Adaptation Program (HAAP) will observe our study so that our team’s conclusions and recommendations can be considered for future HAPP projects. Initial support of the ICCA team on this pilot study also brings additional credibility and awareness of the emerging Collingwood water technology ecosystem. Finally, Communitech, located in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario and considered one of the top 10 tech incubators in North America, is interested in exposing its water related entrepreneurs to this nationally recognized region of the South Georgian Bay region and which would help bring companies to the Town of Collingwood in order to expand its current high tech employment base with new opportunities.
By developing a new “smart” home solution, new skilled trades and engineering employment opportunities will be created at Huronia, Greenland and SafeSump to name just a few. The opportunity to give these companies a competitive technical advantage creates jobs locally and regionally.

Through the Environment Network efforts at the homeowner level, as well as a broader public awareness campaign pre, during and post the pilot, homeowners will learn about the risks of stormwater and tactics to help address and avoid being affected by these climate change factors.

A major focus of the pre and post surveys conducted by the Environment Network will focus on assessing the impact of increased awareness and technological solutions in solving key challenges homeowners face in the region such as flooded basements.

Our Innovative Approach & Involved Technologies

Overall this project is innovative because the Public Private Partnership (PPP) team will gather, monitor and analyze data on inflows to the Town’s sanitary sewer and stormwater systems from residential properties for the first time ever using niche SDRT tools. For example, the cloud data collection capabilities of the SafeSump™ and RainGrid™ systems are essential to access and interpret these new data sets, as well as other monitored data from the constructed rain garden and permeable parking area sites. Once we understand the source and magnitude of the problem at hand, our goal is to reduce downstream municipal sewer network inflows by developing a science verifiable process with a robust communication strategy which will be critical to uptake and public adoption.
Community engagement and education is an important innovative component of the project. The work plan includes educating homeowners about using innovative lot level LID practices with smart flood resilient SDRT products. The project will educate homeowners about ways to reduce exposure to water damage from flooding during high (seasonal) groundwater levels and rogue storms through preventive measures such as: 1) using Internet-based and more advanced sump pump systems; 2) disconnecting residential sanitary sewer laterals from the municipal sewer system; and, 3) constructing lot level LID practices and providing education about overall storm water risk reduction actions. After homeowners understand the importance of reducing water damage risks, they can start making decisions that will improve their flood resiliency, while also reducing (at the same time) downstream municipal asset risks. We believe the design of the pilot project is innovative because new SDRT products are being utilized with conventional LID systems to reduce risk/stress levels on both residential and municipal assets. The real-time data collection process we are following will lead to sustainable and repeatable solutions that can be applied to other municipalities across the country.
The variables included in our innovative approach result in surface water and groundwater inflow reductions and is achieved through the following practices:
The variables included in our innovative approach result in surface water and groundwater inflow reductions and is achieved through the following practices:
  • The removal of non-compliant residential connections to the sanitary sewer system, including homes that now have foundation drains (via “smart” data collecting sump pumps) discharging to sewer laterals;
  • Redirection of discharge from foundation drains to onsite monitored LID features, or directly to the storm drainage system, and depending on what is most feasible; and,
  • At source (lot level) rainwater harvesting (with data collection) and conservation during growing seasons, and if feasible, discharging outflows to onsite LID practices with groundwater infiltration capabilities.
Quantifying these flow reductions using real-time SDRT systems and other remote sensors and assessing positive homeowner impacts in terms of reduced risk of flooded basements will establish a template for use by other municipalities (before or after the pilot study completion).  Because we are taking an innovative approach to reducing stress on municipal and homeowner assets (by utilizing new technologies that feed our data collecting systems approach), successful demonstration of our pilot project is needed to encourage uptake and wide adoption across other Canadian Municipalities.
Currently there are costly practices, policies or methodologies for resolving the extraneous inflow dilemma affecting sanitary sewer systems. Also, very little is understood in Collingwood about underlying factors that have contributed to recent WWTP influent spikes during recent winter-spring snowmelt periods. Our study approach aims at not only identifying key factors (e.g. non-compliant connections of downspouts and foundation drains) but also quantifying their magnitude so a solution can be developed and shared while also not over loading separated stormwater systems. This sustainable and data-driven solutions approach is the main reason why we believe our pilot project is innovative.

Project Schedule & Workplan

Please click here for a detailed overview of the project schedule.