Hamilton West Town Belt – Stormwater

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One benefit of Hamilton’s stormwater system is that it is completely separate from the wastewater network. So the water quality and aquatic health of Hamilton urban streams is by design. For the West Town Belt (WTB) and the area east and west, a significant volume of stormwater is directed quickly into sunless drains. With increasing climate change, the frequency and intensity of storm events may result in fast-draining surfaces increasing down-stream flash flooding, risking injury or death to people and damage to property. In addition to planning for other weather extremes, such as droughts, allowing rain water to pond and be filtered as it seeps through the ground to recharge groundwater stores before emerging as springs in the banks near open water courses to improve water quality and encourage aquatic life, may be a better way to manage our water resources.

A couple of areas in Hamilton have flood retention systems, where dams and ponds provide temporary storage for excess stormwater, which then either soaks into the ground or is discharged into the stormwater network in a controlled way. The WTB should, by design, pond stormwater and allow gradual release to a watercourse after intense storm events. With the increasing likelihood of climate change, the value of water will increase, so the longer it is in our control the more we can get from it. A green belt presents advantages that no other form or disposition of open spaces can provide. For the WTB the optimal maximum surface ponding area is limited by what the political decision makers can accept. The underused Richmond St /Beetham Park car park is a prime example of the opposite of good future storm water management. This area should have measured amount of porous surfaces and allowed to pond in extreme weather events with a delayed release through planted swales to slow stormwater flow, capture contaminants and absorb water into the ground.

 

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