Wet Weather Policy
Stormwater management remains a mostly overlooked concern in most provinces in Canada. There is some policy emerging at all levels in government, but it falls short of what is necessary. Currently, there is a lack of regulatory structure to guide effective stormwater management and address important stormwater issues that are degrading our rivers and lakes through non-point source pollution and runoff.
The City of Toronto is at the forefront for stormwater management. Toronto has recognized the importance behind effectively managing stormwater and created the Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan (WWFMMP) or Toronto's Water Pollution Solution. Its aim is to reduce the negative effects of wet weather runoff generated when it rains or snows using a 25-Year Plan that outlines projects and programs that directly provide solutions.
At the provincial level, the newly introduced Clean Water Act of 2006 provides groundbreaking legislation towards preventing and protecting drinking water from source to tap. This was essential legislature as the US already has emplace a Clean Water Act at the federal level. The goal of the Ontario Act is to ensure communities are able to protect their municipal drinking water supplies through identifying potential risks to local water sources and taking action to reduce or eliminate these risks. This is a tremendous step towards water protection, but there still needs to be more strict guidelines for stormwater management. In Ontario, stormwater management consists only of voluntary guidances. As the Clean Water Act progresses, there may be more comprehensive, strict protection plans outlined towards stormwater management.
As more Ontario municipalities move toward wet weather policies, it is hoped that the policy gap at the provincial level will be filled by requiring planning authorities to implement lot level stormwater control methods. Ontario deserves to have the best development controls over its watersheds and while Ontario's recent intiatives to protect the sources of drinking waters is essential, it is time for Ontario to engage its municipalities in real stormwater management for the protection of our freshwater ecosystems.
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Toronto's Water Pollution Solution is the City's long-term plan to protect our environment and sustain healthy rivers, streams and other water bodies from the adverse effects of stormwater.