Final Report released

Healthy Lake Huron releases Final Report about new computer model to better manage water running off of land during storm events

Healthy Lake Huron has released the Final Report about a project which has created a new computer model to better manage water running off of land during storm events in rural areas.

A copy of this technical report is available online at as a large (6 mb) PDF file. Download now: Final Report for Rural Stormwater Management Model RSWMM Project.

A higher-resolution copy on data DVD is available, upon request, while supplies last. The new technical report is called Development of a Rural Stormwater Management Model to manage water quality in the Lake Huron watersheds.

Stormwater models are common in urban areas but some models were limited when they tried to represent the movement of water runoff in rural areas. Healthy Lake Huron: Clean Water, Clean Beaches is a partnership working to protect and improve water quality along Lake Huron’s southeast shore, an area stretching from Sarnia to Tobermory. Partners include federal and provincial ministries, public health, local government, and local conservation agencies working with community groups and landowners. The partnership has worked since 2012 to develop the Rural Stormwater Management Model (RSWMM). This new technology is designed to work in rural areas while still maintaining the means to model urban areas as well. The project to create this new water quality technology received financial support from the Province of Ontario’s Showcasing Water Innovation (SWI) Program as well as support from other partners.

Alec Scott is Project Manager. He said the new model will be used in the coming months and years to provide local people with better information about the kinds of projects and practices that can reduce impacts on water quality. The modeling software can also help watershed managers and drainage engineers in making the best decisions possible in the design, size, and location of projects. He said work on the RSWMM project has achieved three main goals. The project has created the model; improved local monitoring of water quality, water quantity, and weather; and increased public awareness of the need to manage stormwater runoff. “I would like to thank the landowners who have agreed to take part by allowing us to gather monitoring data on their properties and thank all the residents and community groups who are implementing best management practices and water-quality projects,” said Scott. “I would also like to thank the Healthy Lake Huron partners, the project funders and supporters, and the technical advisory team and consulting team behind the Final Report.”

The Final Report describes the new model as “a promising, usable tool with broad applicability in rural watersheds. Although a work in progress, the RSWMM will allow watershed managers to better evaluate, prioritize, design and implement soil and water conservation projects to protect Lake Huron.”

The Final Report marks a step forward in management of runoff during storm events in rural areas but Scott said the partners hope to continue to refine and improve the model and recalibrate it in the future. The model can help in making decisions about the projects that will have the greatest water quality benefit, the priority areas for those projects, and the size the projects need to be to have a demonstrated water quality improvement. “The model is an exciting new tool,” Scott said. “When combined with continued support for strategic on-the-ground water-quality projects and long-term monitoring, the model can support the work being done to protect and improve water quality in Lake Huron.”

The new modeling software builds upon PCSWMM, which is described as a spatial decision support system for SWMM5, one of the most widely-used models developed and maintained by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For information on PCSWMM visit

The new model combines urban modeling features with rural features such as agricultural best management practices; understanding of changes from season to season or even within a season (such as changes in crop cover); modeling of roads, ditches, and culverts; slope and terrain types; dynamic travel of water running over land; tracking of key pollutants (sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen); and other features. The technology was designed for use along Lake Huron’s southeast shoreline in Ontario but has the potential to be adopted and used in other locations of Canada and the United States.

For more information on rural stormwater management or the new model technology, visit and and or phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.




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