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Council votes to improve stormwater service around the city

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 19, 2014 10:18 am

Sagewood stormwater pond is one of 34 ponds in Airdrie that will see an increased level of service for the next five years.
Sagewood stormwater pond is one of 34 ponds in Airdrie that will see an increased level of service for the next five years.
File Photo/Rocky View Publishing

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The City of Airdrie will be taking a “proactive approach” to stormwater servicing and management as council voted unanimously in favour of improving service levels over the next five years on June 16.

Airdrie currently has 34 stormwater ponds, and five fountains throughout the city.

According to Water Services Team Leader Glen Archer, in the past the City has treated stormwater ponds as utilities, rather than amenities and a shift could lead to service levels that are considered value-added services.

“Stormwater ponds are designed and constructed to reduce downstream flooding and erosion by controlling peak flow and velocity of stormwater,” said Archer.

“These ponds are designed to trap and settle much of the solid material carried by the stormwater as sediment, which improves water quality and helps reduce contaminant loads into rivers and lakes.”

Archer and his team were directed by council in November to review service levels in order to develop a set level of maintenance and care for stormwater ponds that would provide enhancements to improve the water quality and aesthetic value of the ponds.

There are an array of services that will be conducted over the next five years to Airdrie’s current 34 ponds, as well as the expected two additional stormwater ponds to be added annually.

These services include: dredging of storm ponds and Nose Creek to ensure silt levels are at an appropriate level and catch basins will be cleaned regularly as opposed to on an as-needed basis in order to improve drainage and minimize localized flooding.

Circulation and aeration machines will be utilized in storm ponds to improve water quality and all of the city’s ponds with a five per cent or greater surface area of algae will be treated with live liquid microorganisms (LLMO) to improve water clarity and quality.

Fountains were discussed by council and staff during the June 16 meeting, as none of the five around the city are functioning yet this year.

“I’m hoping that our fountains will all be running in time for the (2014 Alberta) Summer Games,” said Deputy Mayor Ron Chapman.

Archer said his Water Services team is making a concerted effort to get them up and running and they will be regularly maintained in accordance with the new servicing agreement.

The costs associated with this level of service will be increasing year-over-year as more storm ponds, drainage lines, catch basins and water systems come online (five per cent growth annually in storm system infrastructure); starting at $245,560 in 2014 (current service level) and increasing to $441,200 in 2015 and all the way up to $1.03 million in 2018.

Funding for these services will be deliberated through budget processes in years to come and could be reflected on residents’ utility bills.

“The City budgets for its stormwater and sanitary systems,” said Lorne Stevens, director of community infrastructure. “We may see some changes to the utility rate structure in the future, Glen (Archer) and his team have done a great deal of work costing this out.”

Council voted unanimously in favour of the proposed service levels.

Sagewood pond

During the June 18 meeting, Archer provided council with an update on work currently underway at the Sagewood pond, which has been identified by staff as the city’s most problematic storm pond.

Residents of the Sagewood neighbourhood voiced concerns about the pond’s aesthetics during an open house held in a park in the Sagewood area on June 18 last year.

Water levels, smell, and unsightly water were all raised as issues with the pond and on July 2, 2013 council voted unanimously in favour of launching an analysis of the pond.

On Nov. 18, the issue was revisited by council and staff where they voted down major changes that included a new pedestrian bridge and to instead go ahead with budgeted items like tree planting ($20,000), path maintenance ($5,000) and water treatment ($5,000).

Archer returned to council on June 16, 2014 to inform councillors that work is ongoing and improvements have already been made.

These include: dredging and removing 90 truckloads of material from the two integral ponds, installation of decorative rocks at the shore to prevent erosion and improve aesthetics, plantings were placed at the water’s edge and seeding was done to repair ground that was damaged by construction equipment.

The pond has also been treated with an organic compound to improve water clarity and reduce biomass and algae. Water testing is ongoing, but Archer said it will require several years of assessment, as treatment is severely affected by seasonal weather.

The developer for the Sagewood community - Hopewell Communities - has agreed to contribute $20,000 to the efforts to rehabilitate the pond.

Alderman Allan Hunter commended the developers.

“I really want to express my appreciation to Hopewell as both an alderman and a Sagewood resident for their contribution and dedication to the community,” said Hunter.


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