Project featured provincewide

Lake Huron project spearheaded by Healthy Lake Huron partnership one of projects highlighted in provincial report

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA), Healthy Lake Huron: Clean Water, Clean Beaches developed new rural stormwater management modeling technology; Project featured in new Showcasing Water Innovation Final Report released by Province of Ontario

Ontario has released a final report about communities in the province that have developed new water management tools with support of Ontario’s Showcasing Water Innovation program. A project by Ausable Bayfield Conservation and the Healthy Lake Huron: Clean Water, Clean Beaches partnership is included in the document. This provincial report is now available online at        

The report shows how Ontario communities are being water technology pioneers by adding new, innovative, and cost-effective tools to protect water resources, conserve water, lower energy use, and reduce capital investment costs.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) led the Healthy Lake Huron multi-partner project to develop a new Rural Stormwater Management Model (RSWMM). Some staff of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and conservation authorities in the five priority areas are testing and starting to use the model. Some consulting engineers in the drainage industry have also expressed interest in using the model.

A one-page summary of the Healthy Lake Huron rural stormwater management project is featured on page 31 of the provincial final report. The project also appears on page 22 and on the Ontario map on page 11. Photos from the project are included on the Table of Contents page and page 31. “ABCA created a Rural Stormwater Management Model that can predict the impact of stormwater draining from rural settings, and help determine best-value actions to improve water quality,” according to the report. “Partners are using and working on improving this powerful new model as an important decision-making tool.”

Healthy Lake Huron is a partnership of all levels of government, public health, local conservation agencies, and landowners and community groups. The partnership works to protect and improve water quality along Lake Huron's southeast shoreline in an area stretching from Sarnia to Tobermory. The Healthy Lake Huron partnership has received funding through the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health to continue to monitor in the five priority watersheds of Lake Huron’s southeast shore. Those five sentinel watersheds are Pine River; Garvey Creek and Glenn Drain; Lambton Shores; Bayfield North; and Main Bayfield. This data is to help in model updates and calibration over the next couple of years to ensure the most accurate and consistent results possible.

The provincial report highlights features of the stormwater management project including upgraded long-term monitoring of weather, stormwater, and water quality and quantity monitoring in five sentinel watersheds. The new modeling software incorporates field-scale treatment and best management practices for stormwater and erosion and sediment control and compares the impacts of potential projects on water quantity and quality. The model makes it possible for rural extension staff, working with landowners, to better evaluate, prioritize, design and implement soil and water conservation projects to protect Lake Huron.

Alec Scott is ABCA Water and Planning Manager and he was Project Manager for the RSWMM model. “We are very pleased to have this new technology featured across the province,” he said. “The model can be used to evaluate potential projects so landowners can have the best information possible when choosing which erosion and runoff control projects will work best on their properties.”

The development of this model was possible thanks to landowners who took part in the monitoring improvements, to the Province of Ontario’s Showcasing Water Innovation Program, and to the public health, agency, governmental, and community partners along Lake Huron’s southeast shoreline, Scott said.

Showcasing Water Innovation (SWI) is an Ontario program to demonstrate leading-edge, innovative, and cost-effective solutions for managing drinking water, stormwater and wastewater systems in Ontario communities. The program has supported 32 Ontario communities, formed 263 partnerships, undertaken 44 pilot texts and 32 new technologies, and supported seven First Nations partners and 16 university and college partners.

“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 has the potential to be a valuable tool to 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

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. The new technology is designed to work in rural areas while still maintaining the means to model urban areas as well. Staff will continue to test and use the model as funding permits.

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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