Outcomes of the Water Roundtable held June 14, 2014

If you have a few minutes to puruse the comments contributed by several hundred Ottawa residents that gave up a beautiful Saturday in June on behalf of all residents to discuss the future care, conservation and use of water in the Capital. You may find that some comments resonate with your personal beliefs and values and you may, therefore, be motivated to get involved as this discussion moves towards tangible and meaningful outcome measures.  It was an invigorating experience being among so many residents who truly care about the city. 

An example of one of the questions discussed:

"What can residents do to improve the quality and manage the quantity of water run-off – on their own properties or public property?"

While the use of rain barrels and water gardens were often referred to throughout the day, by far the main concern was de-paving asphalt and the use of permeable surfaces. Other solutions frequently mentioned were as follows: 

  • Green roofs, green parking lots; 
  • Gardens that require less water; 
  • Education programs; 
  • Organic farming; 
  • Salt alternatives; 
  • Tree planting and naturalization of shorelines. 

DISCUSSION

The Water Roundtable provided residents with an opportunity to meet and explore ideas to protect and enhance the health of Ottawa’s watersheds. Participants were assigned to one of four breakout session rooms at City Hall. Each room was staffed with a lead facilitator who introduced four conversation streams. In order to accurately capture participant feedback, each table was staffed with a “scribe” who recorded the key points of the table conversations. Each table was also provided with large sheets of paper and markers for “self-scribing” where participants could write down keywords and important information. This document contains a brief summary followed by an expanded 4 summary of participant feedback as captured through the scribes, self-scribes, and feedback forms. 

OUTCOMES 

Overall, residents who attended the Water Roundtable stated that they were pleased with the water environment in Ottawa. All participants expressed a strong desire for the City to report back on what had been heard and to develop an action plan that reflects public interest. 

A long-term strategy and work plan for the Water Environment Strategy are being developed and will be brought forward to City Council in 2015. The strategy will include: a strategic framework with long term goals and guiding principles; a 2015-2018 action plan; recommended City investments; and proposed framework to enhance coordination between the City; Conservation Authorities; provincial and federal agencies; and other water environment stakeholders. Education and outreach are also integral to ORAP and the Water Environment Strategy. 

Through the Eastern Subwatersheds Study, stormwater management retrofits will contribute to improved water quality and healthier local creeks. The City will explore ways to address impacts of uncontrolled stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflow into the Ottawa River. A long-term watershed approach, including increasing awareness of and action on, water environment issues at the community level will ensure that the full range of pollutant sources and impacts are addressed. 

The City of Ottawa would like to thank all the participants who attended and provided input into the Water Roundtable event. The City looks forward to continuing this dialogue to improve the collective understanding of Ottawa’s water systems and to find new ways to improve the health of our water environment.