Port Burwell has tremendous potential to grow its residential, commercial and recreational sectors, but only if its stormwater can be managed and treated appropriately.

That finding was based on assessments commissioned by the Municipality of Bayham, where Port Burwell is located. Like many municipalities, it had a tight budget, but didn’t want that to stand in the way of local environmental stewardship. The municipality decided to engage in creative problem solving to lower the project costs and bring funding within reach. Fortunately, a fiscally responsible, three-fold solution now enables expansion in Port Burwell, while protecting residents and the environment.

With backing from FCM’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, Port Burwell phased in the reconstructions of its storm sewer network using low-impact development (LID) methods. In phase one, it installed 100 metres of bioswale, created a new overland flow route and replaced 446 metres of stormwater sewer. Its stormwater management infrastructure now meets the province’s, county’s, and municipality’s health and safety and water quantity/quality land use planning standards.

If the village hadn’t made these improvements, significant rain events (i.e., more than 20mm) would have continued to overwhelm its agricultural pipe-based system, threatening residents and the environment.

Threats to residents

Port Burwell’s 340 dwelling units and its commercial properties are largely built below road height and have always been vulnerable to flooding and damage. Poorly managed stormwater often created stagnant water pools in the village, which supported mosquito populations that could transmit diseases. This posed a health risk to the area’s 1,000 residents. Runoff from new residential developments would only increase those risks.

Threats to the environment

Port Burwell’s stormwater was usually discharged untreated into Lake Erie and Otter Creek. Its high speed and volume eroded the shorelines and added high levels of pollution (i.e., nutrients and sediment) to both bodies of water.

The new stormwater sewer system, bioswales and overland flow routes are able to direct, slow and treat stormwater before it enters the lake and the creek. This reduces the risk of flooding, cuts the amount of water left behind in low-lying areas, decreases the amount of pollution in the water and reduces shoreline erosion. And all this has been done in a fiscally responsible manner. These are exceptional outcomes for Port Burwell and the Municipality of Bayham.

Project details

  • Project name: Port Burwell Climate Change Adaptation Infrastructure
  • Sector: Climate change adaptation
  • Type: Capital project
  • Grant amount: $778,400
  • Location: Municipality of Bayham, ON

Primary objectives

  • Transition from an agricultural, pipe-based, stormwater system to a more effective stormwater management and treatment system
  • Reduce the risk of flooding for 340+ residential and commercial properties
  • Improve the quality of water discharged into Lake Erie and Otter Creek during storm events
  • Protect the local shorelines in Lake Erie and Otter Creek
  • Guard 1,000+ residents from the health risks associated with stagnant ponds where mosquitoes breed
  • Help Port Burwell plan secure growth in its residential, commercial and recreational sectors
  • Reduce the number of culvert failures, basin failures, flooding, washouts etc., that result from rain events
  • Meet the health and safety policies and the water quantity/quality requirements for land use planning policies set out by the province, county, and municipality

"This infrastructure project means our community can now direct, treat and discharge stormwater safely. It reduces the risk of flooding and damage to public and private property in this area, which is a great relief to our residents. It also reduces the amount of pollution going into our drinking water, and creates safer places to swim and fish. This work contributes to the quality of life in the Municipality of Bayham and enhances the future of Port Burwell."

–Ed Ketchabaw, Mayor, Municipality of Bayham

"We couldn’t have installed this critical infrastructure without funding from FCM’s MCIP."

–Ed Ketchabaw, Mayor, Municipality of Bayham

By the numbers

  • 446 metres of stormwater sewer installed
  • 100 metres of bioswale installed
  • Total cost: $1,557,471
  • 50% of the cost was paid by MCIP
  • 340+ dwellings protected
  • 1,000+ residents protected
  • 4-year project, start to finish
  • Infrastructure designed to last at least 50 years

Anticipated benefits:

  • 64% drop in spending for maintenance and weather-related equipment failures
  • 83% drop in the number of weather-related equipment failures
  • 50% drop in shoreline erosion

Project activities

  • Install a modern stormwater system that can manage and treat large volumes of water to prevent flooding
  • Create overland flow routes to control excess stormwater flow, even for 100-year events
  • Construct bioswales to remove contaminants (i.e., nutrients and sediment) from stormwater before it reaches local bodies of water, and reduce the amount of stormwater that’s untreated before it is discharged
  • Install bioswales and sewer systems that reduce the rate at which stormwater flows into local bodies of water, eroding their shorelines
  • Build improved underground systems that remove stormwater from low-lying areas to keep them reasonably dry and discourage mosquito breeding grounds
  • Install modern infrastructure that is designed to withstand at least 50 years of use
  • Build a stormwater sewer system that can handle an increase in peak flows as Port Burwell undergoes expansion


Paul Shipway
CAO | Clerk
(519) 866-5521

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This resource was developed by the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (2017-2022). This program was delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and funded by the Government of Canada.

For more information on climate action funding, resources and training, please visit FCM’s Green Municipal Fund. For more information on asset management and climate resilience grants, training and resources please visit FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program.

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