Sources

Why is storm water an issue?  There’s not much in the way of infrastructure in nature for managing it.  Surface runoff form streams and rivers and lakes – that part is visible and makes sense. Where does the rest of the water go?  It is held by permeable soils, taken in through plant roots and filtered down until it recharges the aquifer.  Urban systems have issues with storm water because we have taken a huge amount of permeable surface area and made it impermeable.  This concentration of the flows creates large volumes of water with major impacts on our daily lives and so we as societies build massive pipes underground to collect and direct this water.  In Wasagaming this water has been dumped – laden with pollutants – into the main beach area and a number of other outflow points.  The proposed solution diverts this flow into Ominik Marsh.  Ominik is the last stage in the filtration and cleansing of the waste water and sewage from Wasagaming.  What happens when you increase the flow rates of the marsh system by dumping millions of litres of storm water into it every season?

To understand the sources of storm water and conceptualize how big an issue this is I have mapped out the impermeable surfaces in Wasagaming – parking lots, roads, paths and roofs.  The large squares in the image show the accumulated total area of each system.  Interestingly it came out that parking is a 200m x 200m square, roof areas are a 300m x 300m square while roads are by far the largest at a full half kilometer squared – 500m x 500m.  More analysis to come as I use these areas to calculate runoff volume and begin to test ideas about permeable surfaces to reduce storm water volume drastically. Total impermeable surface area?  94 acres – that’s almost 400,000m2.

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9 thoughts on “Sources

  1. Sean Frey says:

    Some very impressive thought going on here Naryn. I think you’ve encapsulated the problem very nicely and have shown how stuck in the gutter we have been. Excellent work.

  2. Ken Kingdon says:

    I think Sean’s pun is rather poor. However, I might also ask one question and an equally bad pun. Given that Wasagaming might be considered to be slightly different than other towns of the same size (due to its seasonality and lack of manufacturing industries, for example), what types of pollutants can we expect in the storm water runoff? Perhaps storm water being diverted into Ominnik may have a flushing effect (a pun of my own), especially if the water quality is better than the resident water already found in Ominnik/Octopus creek/being released from the lagoon.

    • Naryn Davar says:

      Ken, I’m always up for a bad pun. I agree Wasagaming is considered different than other towns of its size. As to what types of pollutants would be expected? I think that there would be a sediment load in the runoff, some ppm of road/automobile based pollutants, debris, anything dumped down the storm sewers or into the streets, and a significant nutrient load if I’m reading the presentation Sean gave about Keeping the Clear in Clear Lake correctly. The silt, debris, and algae growth at existing outflows certainly provide anecdotal evidence that things are going down the drain.

      As to Ominik, the main question I have is whether a flushing of the marsh system that is now integrated into a waste water and sewage system would have possible repercussions on water quality down stream. Did the sewage treatment strategy not account for the capacity of Ominik to achieve water quality standards while acting as filter without the addition of several million cubic meters of water per year?

      • Ken Kingdon says:

        Good points – I haven’t had time to look at all the data, so will limit my comments to a couple of things … 1.) I think the prime pollutants we can expect will be organic in nature (and thus treatable without too much additional effort on the systems part), 2.) we need to consider the effects of South Lake as an additional sink for sediments/nutrients when thinking about water quality standards (rightly or wrongly, South lake is a major part of the Octopus/sweage lagoon system). What I’m saying is that perhaps we should measure the effectiveness of both sewage and storm water treatment by monitoring water quality in South Lake, rather than Ominnik Marsh, and 3) given the generally stochastic nature of flow rates from storm water (and now snow melt), do we have to be concerned about how the storm water will be “distributed” (physically and temporally) if we decide to funnel it into Ominnik …

  3. Paul Tarleton says:

    Naryn it might be worth thinking about snowmelt and the large pulse of run-off that occurs in spring – probably the biggest input from the stormwater system at any time. Possibly there could be a way of managing snow accumulations and build-up to moderate the speed and volume of spring run-off.

    Would refer you to some of the work done by John Pomeroy and Raoul Granger out of the National Hydrology Research institute in Saskatoon.

    • Naryn Davar says:

      Thanks for the comment Paul,

      Snowmelt is an input that I can see needs to be present in my analysis, as you say it makes sense that it is the peak load on the system.

      I’ll definitely check out the two references – do you know of any data on spring snowmelt rates for Wasagaming?

      • Ken Kingdon says:

        Hi Naryn, Dr. Rod McGinn from Brandon University has been doing snow accumulation monitoring in the Clear Lake basin for many years. He may have some of that information, although it will likely be basin-wide.

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