The Earl Bales Stormwater Management Pond
The Earl Bales Stormwater Management Pond is one of the largest facilities of its kind in Canada. Built in 2011, the pond covers an area of 3.2 hectares and is approximately three metres in depth. The pond has the capacity to manage and treat stormwater runoff from a catchment area that encompasses 550 hectares of residential and industrial development. The area is bounded by Sheppard Avenue to the north, Highway 401 to the south, Downsview Airport to the west, and Avenue Road to the east.
The need for the pond was identified in the City's Wet Weather Flow Master Plan, approved by City Council in 2003, to deal with stormwater discharges to the West Don River that have adversely affected water quality and fish habitat. Stormwater flows have also caused erosion of area ravines, resulting in the loss of trees and other vegetation in the valley, as well as exposing underground sewer infrastructure and putting it at risk. An environmental assessment study was completed in 2007 for the project.
Adjacent to the Don Valley Golf Course in the valley lands of the West Don River, the pond was designed to blend into the natural environment. A pathway through the site connects with a pre-existing trail system.
Key innovations of the project include using the pond water for golf course irrigation in the summer, and for snow-making on the Earl Bales ski hill in the winter. In the past, water was withdrawn from the Don River for these activities, which adversely affected fish habitat and aquatic vegetation.
Benefits of the Project
The project helps to achieve the goals and objectives of the City’s Wet Weather Flow Master Plan by improving the water quality in the West Don River and increasing fish and wildlife habitat. Specific benefits include:
- Improving water quality in the West Don River by capturing and treating 90 per cent of total annual stormwater runoff from the catchment area;
- Preventing further erosion and tree loss along 2.5 kilometres of ravine system and promoting long-term integrity of the forest canopy;
- Significantly reducing the practice of withdrawing water from the West Don River for irrigation at the Don Valley Golf Course and for snowmaking at Earl Bales Ski Centre;
- Protecting exposed sections of sewer infrastructure; and
- Revitalizing a dilapidated piece of land, (formerly a wastewater treatment plant and a leaf composting facility) into a functional stormwater management pond that blends into the natural environment, while integrating into an established trail system.
This project was partially funded by the Government of Canada 's Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.