Public review period open now for Ridgetown’s Stormwater Master Plan

Ever wonder where the rainwater goes during or after a storm?

The Ridgetown Stormwater Master Plan aims to explain the process while outlining some much-needed repairs.

The report is now available and will be available online for public review on the Municipality of Chatham-Kent website for a 30-day period, starting on Jan. 4 and ending on Feb. 12.

At the commencement of the project, an Initial Online Consultation Period was provided through the Let’s Talk Chatham-Kent website. The objectives of this period were to introduce the project, describe the Master Plan process, and obtain feedback from residents regarding flooding in Ridgetown.

A 10-minute video was posted on the website for the public to watch and provided information regarding the project, the Master Plan process, and how the public could provide input to the study.

The project background discovered the Ridgetown storm sewers were constructed many years ago and have deteriorated significantly in recent years, causing pipe failures which could lead to public safety issues. With increasing rainfall intensity and improved standards for municipal storm sewers, the current infrastructure is undersized, which could lead to flooding.

“Typical lifespan of the steel pipes used is between 35 and 50 years. As a result, many storm sewers have severely deteriorated and require replacement in the near future,” reads the municipality’s Master Plan.

The Master Plan also showed 16 percent (approximately 4.4 km) of storm sewers in Ridgetown require immediate attention and replacement within 1 to 5 years. An additional 11 percent (approximately 2.3 km) of the storm sewers are in poor condition and require replacement in the next 5 to 10 years.

In total, 65 pipes were listed as severe conditions, 45 were listed as poor, 51 were listed as fair/poor, and 64 were listed as fair.

A complete list of potential solutions to the sewers in Ridgetown is outlined in the Master Plan.

A study conducted in 2014 found that the stormwater pipes in Ridgetown no longer meet current standards. The cost to replace and upgrade the Ridgetown storm sewer system is estimated to be greater than $50 million.

An online flooding questionnaire was also available on the website for residents to identify known flooding concerns in Ridgetown. The questionnaires included the location, type, frequency, and impact of flooding. A total of one response was received from a resident regarding flooding in the Victoria Avenue and Cathcart Street area.

An Online Public Information centre was then held through the Let’s Talk Chatham-Kent website from Feb. 23, 2022, to Mar. 31, 2022. This included a 20-minute video which presented information ranging from a description of stormwater conveyance in Ridgetown, a summary of the storm sewer condition assessment results, and results of the stormwater modelling and key flooding locations’ next steps.

Ten comment sheets were submitted by residents and included key concerns such as how will the Municipality pay for the upgrades proposed in the study, flooding being observed in the farm field between 24 Cecil Street and 30 Cecil Street, flooding occurring along Victoria Avenue and concerns being raised regarding the proposed Highland Subdivision which is planned to include 131 additional homes.

Residents said they were concerned the existing undersized storm sewers and flooding issues in the Warwick Subdivision, adjacent to the Highland Subdivision, will become worse when the development is completed. Residents indicated improvements and upgrades to the existing infrastructure should be undertaken before any additional drainage can be directed to the area.

Additional flooding issues in Ridgetown that were highlighted include, but are not limited to, Jane Street, Palmer Street, Elizabeth Street and Hillsdale Ave., Tiffany Street and Main Street, Harold Street, Ebenezer Street, West Street and Ridge Line.

“As noted as part of the preferred solution, the storm sewer network was consolidated into eight service areas to allow ease of assessment and presenting alternative solutions to broader capacity issues. Feasible alternative solutions were developed, where required, for each service area to provide improvements to the stormwater conveyance system to address flooding and meet the municipal design standards,” reads the Master Plan.

An evaluation of the alternative solutions for each service area was undertaken to identify the preferred alternative by considering the potential impacts on the social, economic, cultural, and natural environments and the ability to address flooding in Ridgetown.

The evaluation identified the preferred solution, which consists of 10 individual projects, which include storm sewer upsizing, new trunk storm sewers, and new stormwater retention ponds. An additional 29 local storm sewer upgrades were identified through the storm sewer condition assessment.

The planning, consultation and alternative evaluation process undertaken throughout the study have been detailed in the Master Plan Report.

Currently, the municipality is in the Public Review Period. The report will be available online for public review on the Municipality of Chatham-Kent website for a 30-day period until Feb. 12. Due to ongoing public health recommendations, hard copies will not be available.

Anyone with interest in the Master Plan Study is encouraged to review the Master Plan Report and provide comments to the municipality during the designated review period.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News