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Stormwater Management

When cities are developed, natural vegetated ground surfaces are replaced by roads, parking lots, sidewalks and other infrastructure. These urbanized environments prevent water from being absorbed into the ground. Instead, the water stays on the surface and flows over land. This creates a need to manage this water to prevent flooding in urban areas and prevent pollution from entering our natural watercourses and watersheds.

Stormwater, which is water from rain and snow melt, enters a drainage system and then goes into creeks, ponds, wetlands or rivers. Unlike wastewater from our sinks and toilets, stormwater is typically not treated before it enters a waterbody.

More frequent, high-intensity rain events that can cause flooding are occurring because of ongoing climate change. The City is continuously working to understand these challenges and to improve our stormwater infrastructure to respond to the changing climate. 

Current stormwater management incentive programs and contests include:

What does the City do to provide Stormwater Management?

The City of Peterborough designs, builds and maintains infrastructure to reduce the risk and damage caused by flooding as well as remove pollutants caused by fertilizers, vehicles and debris from entering our natural watercourses. As part of our Flood Reduction Capital Program, we maintain a list of over 100 potential flood reduction projects. All of these projects will better prepare the City for an uncertain future of climate change induced rainfall trends.

Examples of recent Flood Reduction Projects and maintenance programs include:

What does the City's current stormwater management system include?

We own and operate a stormwater management system worth around $535 million. This includes:

  • 12,300 catch basins and manholes
  • 317 kilometers of storm sewers
  • 230 storm sewer outfalls
  • 34 stormwater management ponds
  • 30 Oil and Grit separators 
Alterations to the Stormwater Management System
The City of Peterborough has been issued a Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Environmental Compliance Approval (CLI-ECA) by the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Parks (MECP). This means development applications no longer require a direct submission to the MECP. Visit our CLI-ECA page for more details.
Stormwater Management Ponds

A stormwater management pond is an engineered piece of green infrastructure (not a natural water feature) that collects rainfall and surface runoff (stormwater) from urban areas.

Stormwater enters a series of catch basins and storm sewers, and then drains to a stormwater management pond. The stormwater pond temporarily stores, and slowly releases this water to prevent downstream flooding. The stormwater pond also allows sediment (sand, silt and debris) and other pollution such as oil and fertilizers to settle out inside the pond rather than entering our natural bodies of water.  

Periodic pond maintenance is important to maintain the form and function of a stormwater facility. These maintenance operations are also a legal requirement enforced by the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP). Maintenance items range from small repairs and landscaping to large clean-out operations. Reconstruction can also be required if necessary performance improvements can not be achieved by a clean-out alone. 

Important Note: During the winter months, stormwater management ponds freeze over; however, given the unpredictability of ice thickness and the steep slopes around the ponds, no skating or walking on frozen ponds of any kind is permitted.

If you have a concern with a stormwater pond in your neighbourhood, please contact us.

Oil and Grit Separators

Oil and Grit separators (OGS) are specially designed maintenance hole structures that capture pollutants such as sediment and oil collected by urban runoff. Oil and Grit separators are used for pollution control when limited space is available; however, they require frequent maintenance to ensure that they are functioning properly. OGS units do not address stormwater volume issues that can cause flooding.

Most OGS units are located on private property but are subject to inspection and maintenance protocols to comply with the City's sewer use by-law 15-075. In many cases OGS units are also bound by requirements laid out by the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP). Owner's of these units will receive annual reminders of their requirement to have their units inspected and maintained every year. You can register your OGS unit online for paperless reminders.

Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development or LID is a unique approach to land development that mimics the natural movement of water in order to manage stormwater (rainwater and urban runoff) close to where it falls. LID has the potential to mitigate the impacts of climate change by managing frequent rain events, reducing urban heat island effects, reducing the temperature of runoff, and replenishing our groundwater.

LID uses small, simple design techniques and cost-effective landscape features that allow water to infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate, and detain runoff at the source.

These techniques are based on the principle of using stormwater as a resource.

We are actively working to implement LID into our own infrastructure projects. We also work closely with private industry to ensure LID implementation on new developments, to ensure we protect our water resources.

Our featured LID project

Cleantech Commons is being developed in partnership between the City and Trent University. The proposed development will be an industry-leading example of LID implementation.

The first phase of development will feature:

  • Multiple bio-retention basins capable of infiltrating over 90% of all rain that falls in an average year;
  • Multiple "tree boxes" that treat stormwater and help remove debris and other contaminants;
  • A large infiltration basin also capable of infiltrating stormwater and helping to recharge groundwater resources; and
  • A constructed wetland facility that helps to further improve the quality of stormwater runoff and reduce downstream flooding during major rain events.

For more information about the development, please visit the Cleantech Commons website

Rethink the Rain

More frequent, high-intensity rain events that can cause flooding occur because of ongoing climate change. Flood risks can be reduced if residents, businesses, and government take action to slow the flow and retain the rain. Invite your friends and family to Take the Rain Gain Challenge and help protect our valuable water resources.

Rain is a resource that can benefit people, the environment and the economy. It's time to Rethink the Rain!

Rain resources

Community groups and non-profits

These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the City of Peterborough of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. The City of Peterborough bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

Current and past stormwater improvement projects

Stormwater Quality Master Plan

We are working on implementing our Stormwater Quality Master Plan (SWQMP). The SWQMP provides a framework for improving how we manage stormwater and identifies priority infrastructure projects to help maintain and restore water resources.

The recommended strategy of the SWQMP includes:

  • Updates and revisions to our Official Plan policies and design guidelines
  • Increasing our community outreach and collaboration
  • Creating a sustainable funding model
  • Maintenance and renewal of existing infrastructure
  • System surveillance, inspection and monitoring to identify issues and make informed decisions
  • Identifying opportunities for new infrastructure where no stormwater management exists
  • A regular review and update of the Master Plan

Detailed flood reduction studies

Stormwater pond maintenance

Below is a list of our recent and upcoming pond maintenance projects, including a brief description of the work completed.

Removal of sediment and facility restoration to improve water quality and reduce flood risk:

Major facility redesign to improve facility performance, reduce downstream flooding and improve water quality:


General Pond Maintenance Contract (On-going Summer 2024)