Municipal drains are a fixture of rural Ontario’s landscape and a vital element of Norfolk County infrastructure. In Norfolk County alone there are approximately 1,000 kilometers of municipal drains, servicing over 60,000 hectares of land and 24,000 residents.
Most municipal drains are constructed to improve agricultural productivity, increase drainage in specific areas, and provide a stormwater management system. By safely transporting surface and subsurface runoff from rainfall events, they also prevent flooding and reduce public health risks. All municipal drains eventually connect with rivers, streams, and lakes, which are important habitat for many endangered or protected species.
Norfolk County Drainage Services has been collaborating with the Agricultural Runoff Working Group to help maintain and restore biodiversity within the Long Point Walsingham Forest Priority Place.
The department is achieving this goal by modifying drainage practices to remove vegetation on only one side where practical during routine maintenance. Part of the funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service is then used to restore and enhance drain corridors after the vegetation removal occurs.
Managed vegetation removal along drain corridors helps to maintain flow and access, and identify issues such as blockages or erosion. By minimizing the amount of vegetation removed and enhancing buffers in these areas erosion, sedimentation, and agricultural runoff are reduced. This approach improves bank stability and reduces the demand for drain maintenance. It also allows for more habitat to remain intact, maintaining cover, shade, and food for fish and other species.
In recent years agencies that regulate drainage works have included additional requirements to mitigate or offset any environmental impacts. This partnership allows for some of these requirements to be fulfilled while mitigating costs that would have otherwise been assumed by stakeholders on the drainage systems.
Through this partnership, Norfolk County Drainage Services has preserved over 10 km of drain corridors and restored 20 km of maintained drain corridors across Norfolk County.
For more information or to learn about establishing buffers along the municipal drain on your property, contact Morgan Van Laeken, Drainage Program Coordinator at 519 426 5870 ext. 1118.