The following free webinars are being offered as part of the STEP 2023 Webinar Series, presented by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA).

Each webinar qualifies for 1 continuing development hour (CDHs).

Registration will close for each event at 9 am on the morning of the webinar.  For additional information, please contact sara.finnimore@trca.ca.

Presentation Schedule: June – December 2023

* Please note that webinars and guest speakers may be subject to change.

June 8, 2023 – Designing Green Infrastructure for Biodiversity

Presenters: Julie McManus, Sylvie Spraakman & Cassandra Humes (City of Vancouver)

Julie McManus is a water steward and expert over 12 years experience in green rainwater infrastructure at Credit Valley Conservation and the City of Vancouver. She currently manages public education and engagement, as well as operation & maintenance for the Green Infrastructure Implementation team at the City of Vancouver. More recently Julie is taking on the management of large-scale green infrastructure projects across the City.

Sylvie Spraakman is a senior water resources engineer at the City of Vancouver in the Green Infrastructure Implementation Branch, and has a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto, where her research focused on the long term performance of bioretention systems.

Cassandra Humes is a monitoring lead with the City of Vancouver.

Abstract: Vancouver is an urban landscape consisting of habitat patches fragmented by urban development, roads, utilities and other land uses. Forests and marine habitats are still relatively abundant, but streams, wetlands, and meadows are rare. Green Infrastructure (GI) is a tool that can be used to increase biodiversity and connectivity while managing rainwater. However the question remains, how can we best mimic nature in urban environments that have gone though significant change? In 2022, city staff organized a citizen science to help us better understand the current state and quantify the future changes in biodiversity along St. George Rainway, a future 4-block green infrastructure installation. By understanding what is already in the ecosystem, and what is nearby, we were able to adopt planting design, maintenance and stewardship strategies that provide resources these species need including food, water and shelter. This presentation will review the approaches taken to collect and assess data, selection of key indicator species, and recommendations on how to design GI for biodiversity that go beyond generalized suggestions such as inclusion of native plants. It will also discuss the benefits and impacts of engaging the community in citizen science projects as an education and outreach tool for GI.

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June 15, 2023 – Innovative Phosphate Management Strategies from Minnesota

Presenter: Andy Erickson (University of Minnesota)

Andy Erickson, PhD, PE, is a Research Manager at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and the University of Minnesota and registered professional engineer in Minnesota. Dr. Erickson’s research pursues an understanding of water quality in urban and agricultural watersheds, assessment and maintenance of stormwater treatment practices, and developing new stormwater treatment technologies such as the Iron-Enhanced Sand Filter. Dr. Erickson is lead author for the book, “Optimizing Stormwater Treatment Practices: A Handbook of Assessment and Maintenance,” and the editor of the University of Minnesota stormwater newsletter, UPDATES to approximately 1900 email subscribers, and leads the Minnesota Stormwater Seminar Series for approximately 170 stormwater practitioners per month. Dr. Erickson has given over 230 presentations, over 30 invited guest lectures, and over 40 one- and two-day professional trainings and workshops. Dr. Erickson is the Vice Chair of the ASTM international E64 Committee on Stormwater Control Measures and a member of the Water Environment Federation Stormwater Institute Advisory Board.

Abstract: Phosphate is a major concern for freshwater resources in North America because it often contributes to or exacerbates harmful algal blooms in lakes. Phosphate from urban landscapes, transported by stormwater runoff, was found to be a primary factor in surface water impairments by the USEPA in 2016, with nearly 3000 water bodies impaired for phosphate in the USA. Many conventional and innovative stormwater treatment practices are ineffective at capturing phosphate, and some can even increase phosphate concentration from inflow to outflow. In Minnesota, laboratory and field research over the last 20 years has endeavored to develop new ways to mitigate phosphate impacts to valuable water resources.

This presentation will explain the design components of stormwater ponds that may be creating opportunities for captured phosphate to become released during storm events. We will also discuss design components of biofilters that may promote phosphate release from filter media. This presentation will also describe several innovative phosphate removal strategies (e.g., iron enhanced sand filtration, optimized biofiltration media, etc.) to overcome drawbacks of conventional stormwater treatment practices. Stormwater professionals such as consultants, municipalities, regulators, and other decision makers can use these tools to evolve our urban stormwater treatment systems into effective and efficient phosphate capture practices and reduce impacts to valuable water resources.

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September 14, 2023 – Effective Small-Scale Stream Rehabilitation

Presenter: Kat Lucas (Ontario Streams)

Kat Lucas (she/her) graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science, Zoology and a Master of Environmental Science with a focus on aquatic toxicology and fish reproduction. She recently completed a Certificate of Community Development, Engagement, and Leadership from Toronto Metropolitan University. As the Outreach and Communications Coordinator at Ontario Streams, Kat supports stream restoration projects and connects community members with stewardship opportunities.

Abstract: Ontario Streams is a registered environmental charity dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of streams and wetlands, through education and community action. Established in 1995, we have worked closely with numerous communities, conservation organizations, and landowners to develop lasting partnerships environmental stewardship.

With over 26 years of environmental restoration experience, Ontario Streams continues to demonstrate leadership in freshwater ecosystem rehabilitation through our impactful conservation projects and programs. Our most significant work to date has taken place in Southern Ontario, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where the ever-increasing rates of urbanization have resulted in a dire need for rehabilitation. Our priority is on restoring streams and wetlands through on-the-ground work, including in-stream habitat enhancement, native tree and shrub planting, and garbage cleanups. We developed the Ontario’s Stream Rehabilitation Manual which outlines bioengineering techniques to restore stream function and habitat.

This presentation will highlight Ontario Streams’ methods for effectively improving cold-water streams in the GTA. We prioritize using techniques that mimic natural channel design to ensure impactful and long-lasting enhancement of the habitat. We invite you to learn more about stream rehabilitation and how to develop your own projects to protect and restore these sensitive ecosystems.

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September 21, 2023 – Factors Influencing Nutrient Availability in Soil

Presenter: Jaime Douglass (Jenkins Soil Mixtures)

Jaime Douglass is a professional with 18 years of experience in sales and product development of construction management, site preparation, erosion and sediment controls. Jaime has a passion for developing products, solutions and strategies that support green infrastructure, healthy soils and regenerative practices.

Abstract: This webinar explores how nutrients are made available in soils and the factors that influence nutrient availability. Factors such as temperature, PH, moisture, Cation Exchange Capacity and other nutrients will be covered articulating the importance of each and how each factor is interrelated.

Click here for the PDF of this webinar

October 5, 2023 – Using Soil Moisture Data to Estimate Bioretention Swale Infiltration Patterns and Performance

Presenters: Colin Dunlop & Alex Fitzgerald (CVC)

Colin Dunlop is a Water resources technician with the water and climate change science division at CVC. He started at CVC in 2019 as an assistant before becoming full-time in 2021. He completed his undergraduate at McMaster University for Earth and Environmental Science in 2020 and a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Assessment at Niagara College in 2021.

Alex Fitzgerald is a Water Resources Technician at Credit Valley Conservation. He splits his time between working on LID monitoring, watershed modelling, and climate change adaptation. Prior to working at CVC, he worked with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. He has a Master of Science with McMaster University, where he focused on groundwater-surface water interaction.

Abstract: It is important to assess how bioretention performance is affected during the winter when infiltration may be impacted by freezing temperatures. Soil moisture is primarily influenced by runoff, precipitation, and infiltration in swales. Collection of continuous soil moisture data may provide insight into bioretention performance year-round. This project assesses how bioretention swales at the IMAX corporate office perform with the use of soil moisture data, and how they perform during the winter months. Findings from this will help inform future LID design and operation and maintenance.

Upstream and downstream soil moisture data from two swales was first analyzed on a precipitation event basis during non-winter months of different sizes, intensities, and temperatures to develop a baseline understanding of performance. Winter events were then analyzed in comparison to understand how the performance differs from non-winter condition events.

The results found that both swales were close to meeting their design criteria. One swale had a catchment larger than originally designed and did not perform as well as the other. Winter data suggests that snow storage may be impacting infiltration in the swales. When the temperatures rose above freezing, the soil moisture response would quickly return to normal, allowing for performance assessments to occur year-round. This can help inform if the swale is meeting its design criteria or of any maintenance needs that need to be addressed.

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November 2, 2023 – Advantages of Using Integrated Surface Water/Groundwater Models throughout the Planning and Evaluation Process of Low Impact Development (LID) Strategies for Land Development and Ecosystem Conservation

Presenters: Chris Gabriel & Daron Abbey (Matrix Solutions Inc.)

Chris Gabriel is a Senior Environmental Consultant with over 17 years of experience in the development and application of hydrological and groundwater models. For the last 10 years, Chris’ work has been focusing on the application of integrated groundwater/surface water models for land development and conservation projects and included LID application assessments and model-based wetland analysis amongst others.

Daron Abbey is a principal hydrogeologist with over 25 years of experience in hydrogeological system characterization, groundwater flow and contaminant transport modelling, and groundwater management. As practice lead, Daron supports a wide range of groundwater and integrated modelling projects with his multi-disciplinary approach to data analysis, conceptualization, model development, and risk-based solutions to groundwater problems.

Abstract: To predict surface water runoff volumes and timing, engineers commonly apply event-based precipitation/runoff models that represent hydrological processes through lumped parameters and typically simplify groundwater flow conditions. Integrated models, however, use detailed representation of surface and sub-surface processes and allow for physically based feedback, such as rejection of infiltration once soils reach saturation. In recent years, increased attention has been placed on incorporating LID concepts into land development while efforts to conserve groundwater-dependent ecosystem expect groundwater discharge conditions to be maintained at predevelopment levels. Examples will illustrate how integrated modelling can be used at different scales and stages in the planning process to help stakeholders make well-informed decisions. At watershed scale, models can establish capture volumes required to reduce runoff volumes and maintain groundwater function. At subwatershed scale, feature-based analyses can provide insights on the surface water/groundwater interaction in recharge areas, wetlands, and streams. Finally, at catchment scale, LIDs can explicitly be represented in the model and tested for their efficacy given the surrounding hydrogeology and groundwater conditions. Feedback between the surface water and groundwater system can identify unexpected conditions such as rejection of infiltration or elevated groundwater levels around centralized infiltration structures.

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November 9, 2023 – Structural Soil: City of Toronto and Vineland Research Explore the Possibilities

Presenter: Diane Leal (City of Toronto) & Rhoda B. deJonge (Vineland Research and Innovation Centre)

Diane Leal is a Program Standards and Development Officer within Urban Forestry at the City of Toronto.  In her work, Diane develops policies, standards and procedures aimed at improving the growing conditions of street trees, with a special interest in streetscape design as it relates to soil volume. She is also a member of the City’s Green Streets Working Group – a multi-divisional Team that functions to identify and address challenges to green infrastructure implementation.  Diane was a co-lead of the City’s Soil Cell Evaluation and played a key role in the City’s new requirement for accurate and complete utility information for Re-zoning Applications. Diane is trained in both temperate forest ecology (Hons. B.Sc., University of Toronto) and landscape architecture (MLA, University of Guelph) and has worked previously as a researcher in academia and as a consultant in the private sector.  She joined the City of Toronto in 2012.

Rhoda B. deJonge is the Director of Plant Responses and the Environment Team at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Her team is comprised of researchers focused on indoor and outdoor plant production trials, soil health in urban and agricultural soils, and urban tree research. Previous to her position at Vineland, Rhoda developed project management experience in industry, academia, and non-profit sectors in both USA and Canada.  Rhoda completed her PhD at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry, studying the biological control of invasive species in the urban forest, and was a post-doctoral fellow with the Faculty of Forestry and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

Abstract: Structural Soil has been used as a construction material in connection with tree planting for decades.  However, the City of Toronto has not considered it for standard use in its boulevards until now.  Narrow Right-of-Way cross-sections, utility congestion and City Council direction to grow the City’s tree canopy cover to 40% by 2050 warrant a closer examination of the opportunities and challenges that exist surrounding structural soil.    Learn what steps the City of Toronto is taking as it considers using structural soil as a construction and maintenance material.  Vineland Research will discuss research gaps and how collaboration may be the key to moving this initiative forward in the Greater Toronto Area.

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November 16, 2023 – Soaking it Up Shouldn’t Be Scary!

Sylvie Spraakman (City of Vancouver)

Sylvie Spraakman is a senior water resources engineer at the City of Vancouver in the Green Infrastructure Implementation Branch, and has a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto, where her research focused on the long term performance of bioretention systems.

Abstract: At the policy and planning level, green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is touted at an important solution that should be adopted wide-scale. When it comes to practical implementation, GSI is often removed due to lack of infiltration capacity or possible high groundwater table. The data that backs up these claims is often very spotty, but engineers argue for the “safest” approach. When considering the large scale of problems that we are facing with climate change, urban growth, aging infrastructure and flooding, perhaps the “safest” approach is in fact keeping us back from advancing towards truly resilient cities. To combat this lack of information we will present before and after data looking at pre-construction monitoring data at sites with infiltration and groundwater concerns, coupled with the real drawdown performance of green infrastructure systems after installation. We will also discuss the discrepancies between various methods for determining infiltration rates and the uncertainty related to “real” groundwater and “perched” groundwater tables. This presentation will include data from case studies across the City of Vancouver, showing the range of what is truly possible when we consider holistically the risks and opportunities of green infrastructure.

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November 30, 2023 – Case Studies in Reuse and Opportunities for Industrial Applications

Brett Emmons (Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc.)

Brett H. Emmons is a founding principal of EOR with 35 years of experience in civil and water resources engineering, natural resources management, preservation, planning and innovative stormwater management techniques. Brett has been instrumental in developing EOR as a regional leader in low impact design and sustainability planning. He is experienced in leading project teams involving multi-stakeholder groups including all levels of government.

Abstract: The Edmonton Energy and Technology Park (EETP) is a large, currently agricultural, area in NE Edmonton, Alberta that has been looking for solutions to challenging stormwater management issues preventing development for over a decade. After several rejected stormwater plans, a team of local consultants developed an approach to stormwater management that uses LID to limit runoff volumes and is implemented in phases, avoiding large up-front capital costs hindering development. To augment this plan, a grant from the FCM, looked at the feasibility of stormwater reuse to help address the tight soils and limited capacity of the impacted downstream Horsehills Creek. A workshop was held to bring together the drainage utility, provincial regulators and City planners to discuss the challenges of stormwater reuse from various perspectives. Evolving regulations in Alberta on stormwater reuse were key parts of the consideration. Two typologies included the regional collection of stormwater for irrigation on public land, and for irrigation and non-potable uses on public and private land. Some opportunities for collection and use on private sites were also investigated. The reuse plans concluded reuse was viable and resulted in less land dedicated to stormwater management and favourable cost comparisons with the recent stormwater management plan. The beneficial cost comparison and a pathway to approval is expected to be well received by developers and regulators, for a win-win solution.

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December 7, 2023 – New Training and Best Practices for Urban Soil Cell Construction *POSTPONED*

Presenters: Daniel Filippi & Dean Young (TRCA)

Daniel Filippi has developed several flood and climate change-related training programs/courses educating homeowners, government staff, and ICI/MUR property owners on the importance of adopting appropriate SWM BMPs and proper implementation and maintenance of LID practices. Most recently, he helped develop a new standard on flood resilient design of new residential communities (CSA W204:19) for Canada and is a primary author of the LID Stormwater Wiki.

Dean Young works at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority as a Project Manager with the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program.  He focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of innovative water and soil management technologies in an Ontario context.  He manages applied research projects and develops knowledge transfer tools to overcome barriers to widespread implementation. His most recent work includes guidance on the design, inspection and maintenance of Low Impact Development stormwater and soil management best practices.  Dean also participates on national standard development committees relating to the design and construction of green stormwater infrastructure.

Abstract: TBA

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