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Testing the waters

Victoria Park Lake is a beloved gathering place for the community. But water quality has been an ongoing concern. So the city asked for our help in re-configuring the lake to better manage the sediment accumulation, while still maintaining the footprint and cultural heritage landscape.

Helping Kitchener find a way to reuse the sediment at Victoria Park Lake could have a positive environmental impact across the province.

While we don’t typically use the blog to focus on a specific project, per se, I couldn’t help but brag about a particularly cool program we’ve been working on in Kitchener, Ontario. We’re helping the city find a way to reuse the sediment at Victoria Park Lake, which could have a tremendous impact on environmental practices across the province.

Victoria Park Lake was created as part of the original Victoria Park development over 100 years ago and has since become a beloved gathering place for the community. But water quality has been an ongoing concern. So the city asked for our help in reconfiguring the lake to better manage the sediment accumulation, while still maintaining the footprint and cultural heritage landscape.

We are already in the process of removing approximately 60,000 tonnes of accumulated sediment from the lake and transporting it to the Cambridge landfill site. Once there, the sediment will be turned regularly and analyzed over a three-year period to determine its viability as a topsoil product given its nutrient value. The Region of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener are equally partnering over the testing period.

Our hope is that, at the end of the three years, we will be left with a nutrient-rich topsoil product that can have useful applications. This would be a much more sustainable—and cheaper!—solution than trucking the material to a landfill, where it would simply sit and take up space.

One potential use for the rehabilitated sediment could be as a topsoil to cover landfill sites. Currently, trees and plants at capped landfill sites cannot be fertilized, as those added nutrients can interfere with ongoing surface water quality monitoring. But, because the rehabilitated sediment is expected to be nutrient rich, it would help trees planted at old landfill sites thrive, without interfering with essential testing.

If the process proves successful, the implications could be huge. Instead of landfilling this type material each time it comes out of a stormwater pond or other source, we would have a sustainable use for it. It’s a promising environmentally friendly, long-term solution that ideally could be applied throughout the province.

The improvements to Victoria Park Lake will continue through the winter, with restoration expected to be completed for summer 2012. Stay tuned for our testing results! 

Authored by Steve Brown a senior associate in our Kitchener, Ontario office.

If the process proves successful, the implications could be huge.

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