City water rate dollars directly fund Toronto Water capital projects, including underground infrastructure renewal, upgrades to water and wastewater treatment plants, basement flooding protection, and improvements to lake and river water quality.
The City of Toronto officially opened the Earl Bales Stormwater Management Pond, one of the largest facilities of its kind in Canada on November 18, 2011. The pond spans an area of 3.2 hectares, is about 3 metres deep and can manage and treat stormwater runoff from a surrounding catchment area of 550 hectares, which includes residential and industrial development areas.
Stormwater management ponds have an important purpose. As they gather surface water runoff, rain and melted snow, they improve water quality in watercourses and reduce the possibility of flooding and property damage. Through a combination of landscape and structural features, stormwater management facilities slow water run-off during wet weather and allow pollutants to settle out. The accumulated water is then released gradually back into the natural watercourse, helping to avoid erosion and downstream flooding.
Located adjacent to the Don Valley Golf Course in the valley lands of the West Don River, the Earl Bales pond was designed to blend into the natural environment. It includes a pathway through the site connecting the area with a pre-existing trail system. Key innovations include using the pond water for golf course irrigation in the summer and for snowmaking on the Earl Bales ski hill in the winter.
The City's Wet Weather Flow Master Plan identified the need for the Earl Bales pond to help deal with stormwater discharges to the West Don River that have harmed water quality and fish habitat. The pond has quickly become a favourite stretch along the walking path in the park, proving that function can be beautiful.