Who is Emily Amon?

I’m a fourth year environmental sciences and studies student, passionate about community-based research and local resource management. My philosophy is to find place-based solutions to environmental problems. I think that when you study both the sciences and the studies (policy, ethics, politics, and management) you realize that the two disciplines are often very disjointed. If we want to succeed in making our little pockets of the world a little greener, we have to find ways to enact science-based policy, with consideration for the community being served.

What is the project about?

I am looking at the impact of increasing urbanization within sub-watersheds, and the resulting need for improved stormwater runoff management from hard surfaces. Using the Harper Creek basin as a case study, and taking into account the newly proposed casino development, I’m seeking to determine priority locations for permeability projects, such as rain gardens, as a means of diverting excess stormwater runoff from impacting the Harper Creek
wetland and stream.

What is the purpose of this project?

The main goal of my project is to note priority areas for rain gardens within the Harper Creek sub-watershed, but beyond that, to identify a set of criteria for determining the locations for new stormwater retention projects like rain gardens around Peterborough as a whole.

What does this report do?

Hopefully my report can offer some solutions to the likely impacts of the casino development project on the green space around Harper Road, particularly the cold water creek and adjacent wetlands. Further, my report will analyze how permeability priority areas and other findings from my research can be used to influence or support current policy discussions the city is engaged with regarding a new stormwater fee. This fee is looking to address budgetary shortfalls in dealing with a backlog of stormwater infrastructure in Peterborough, as well as find ways to encourage residents to increase areas of permeability on their properties where possible.

What does it focus on?

This study focuses on both aspects of science (as it relates to the hydrology of the area and impacts due to development) and policy (as it relates to current stormwater management policy discussions within the City of Peterborough), and hopes to posit realistic solutions to protect the local sub-watershed and
wetlands, while understanding the constraints that development pressures can create.

What kind of negative environmental consequences do urban areas have?

Urban areas are often paved over. This means that when rain falls, there is
nowhere for the water to drain. As the water passes over the paved surfaces, looking for a spot to penetrate soil, it picks up pollutants from our urban lifestyles such as fertilizers (high in phosphorus and nitrogen), organic debris, and other chemical hazards. My project is looking at intercepting those contaminants before entering a local creek, stream, or lake (specifically looking at Harper Creek in this case). These projects are not only important from a water quality perspective (though that is truly my motivation), but also from a flood risk perspective as well. If there is nowhere for rainfall to drain, it can lead to flooding during intense storm events, as we saw in Peterborough in 2004. As we begin to truly feel the effects of climate change, preparing for more intense storms from the point of view of infrastructure is increasingly important.

Why is water quality important?

Water quality is important for many reasons! Firstly, to correct a common
misconception, storm drains and sewers do not lead to a water treatment facility; they outlet in water bodies. That means when you wash your car on your driveway and then spray the residues off into a storm sewer, you’re basically dumping those chemical soaps into the Otonabee. This has an impact on water chemistry and in turn, biology.

When you change the nutrient levels in a water body (especially in respect to phosphorus and nitrogen) you encourage hyper productivity of aquatic plant life and algae. This can lead to the plants and algae hogging too much oxygen as they decompose, thus creating an unlivable situation for fish and other aquatic life.

Beyond the environmental concerns, people love to be able to swim and fish in their local waterways. If we’re dumping all these contaminants into our water, those lifestyles won’t be possible, and people who may live along the water will not be able to share in the recreational use of that
resource.

How can you join Emily’s #greenstormwater project?

People with first-hand knowledge of Harper Park (at Crawford and Harper Road) or the casino development proposal are welcome to share their thoughts with me through email.

Beyond that, if folks are interested in learning more about sustainable
stormwater management, look no further than GreenUP, my community partner and a leader in rain-ready solutions here in Peteterborough.

Just recently a new rain garden was installed in the Jackson Creek sub-watershed at the Wine Shoppe on Park Street through their Depave Paradise program. There are certainly ways to get involved in this work here in Peterborough and I
encourage you to reach out!

You can contact Emily Amon at [email protected]