Celebrating SUN Warsaw Action Plan
October 1st, 2020
On September 25, GreenUP released the new Action Plan for Water in Warsaw, a ten-year plan that GreenUP’s Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods (SUN) program developed with residents and partners in Warsaw. This Action Plan documents the current characteristics of the watershed and identifies priorities for protecting the Indian River waterway.
Through generous funding from the RBC Foundation, the one-year SUN Warsaw program set out to develop a Water Action Plan and plant a total of 500 square metres (or 5,400 square feet) of gardens–roughly the area of one NBA-sized basketball court.
“At RBC we believe in supporting new ideas, technologies, and partnerships to solve pressing environmental challenges,” said Karalee Murray, Community Manager with RBC. “There has never been a greater need for extraordinary solutions. This is why the RBC Foundation is proud to support GreenUP.”
In 2019, the SUN Warsaw project planted 218 square metres at two locations: the Township of Douro-Dummer Municipal Office (894 South Street) and the Warsaw Arena and Community Centre (93 Ford Street). The Back Dam Park planting on September 25, and a planting at Warsaw Public School this fall, will help us to achieve our community planting and land restoration goal.
The planting projects in Warsaw focus on protecting the water by reducing erosion, filtering rainwater, and enhancing habitat for aquatic life. The 2019 planting projects included the installation of a rain garden and a shoreline planting.
Rain gardens are bowl-shaped gardens designed to slowly absorb rainwater that runs off of rooftops or roads. The plants chosen for rain gardens have deep-growing roots that stabilize the soil and absorb the rain. Shoreline plants are important for cleaning and filtering water, reducing erosion, and providing habitat for fish and other animals.
Our September 25th shoreline planting and Action Plan release at Back Dam Park featured a total of 96 plants, including trees, shrubs, and wildflowers along the south-western side of the park. In this area, there is a tributary that flows in the spring, and dries up in the summertime. These plants will clean the water, stabilize the banks of the tributary, and tolerate summer droughts.
“The planting that is taking place at the Back Dam Park will not only enhance the visual appeal of the park it will also improve the quality of the surface water that flows into the Indian River and provide vital habitat to pollinators and other sensitive species,” observes Martina Chait-Hartwig, Temporary CAO and Deputy Clerk for the Township of Douro-Dummer.
“The location of the planting similar to the planting that took place last year in the Millennium Garden and at the Warsaw Community Centre, are locations where water ponds have proved challenging from a grounds maintenance perspective,” continues Chait-Hartwig. “Instead of fighting these natural characteristics of the land by adding fill or additional draining, the SUN Program is showing that with innovative thinking and native plants we can harness these locations to work as water treatment and holding areas that benefit not just visitors to the parks but also improve the quality of our local water supply.”
The planting event on September 25 also launched the Action Plan for Water in Warsaw. This Action Plan documents the current characteristics of the watershed and identifies priorities for protecting the Indian River waterway.
The quality of the Indian River is currently good, receiving a “B” grade in the 2018 Otonabee Watershed Report Card. For comparison, the Otonabee River received a “C” or “fair” grade, and no areas of our local watershed received an “A” grade.
Only 9% of surfaces in the Warsaw community are impermeable (i.e., roofs or roads, where water cannot penetrate). This exceeds the guideline set by Environment Canada for no more than 10% impermeable surfaces in a developed area. The Indian River also supports diverse species, with over 230 species identifications noted in the online iNaturalist community.
In order to maintain good water quality and prevent future degradation, the Action Plan advocates for water conservation at homes and businesses, by regularly maintaining septic systems and installing rain barrels and greywater reuse systems. Another recommendation is to strengthen municipal and county land use planning policies to limit development in sensitive ecosystems.
The Action Plan was developed through engagement with an Advisory Committee that features representatives from Otonabee Conservation, the Township of Douro-Dummer, the County of Peterborough, and Warsaw residents.
“The SUN Warsaw project provides a unique opportunity for residents to engage in community planning and action projects that address climate change and increase resilience,” observes Brianna Salmon, Executive Director of GreenUP. “Using innovative participatory planning tools that centre on the visions and priorities of residents, while also building strategies and coalitions to support implementation, the SUN Warsaw Action Plan is a visionary document that provides a roadmap toward greater sustainability.”
“Often, small-scale community planning projects emphasize engagement in urban neighbourhoods,” observed Brianna Salmon, Executive Director of GreenUP. “This project demonstrates the transferability of these approaches to rural areas. GreenUP was thrilled to work in Warsaw, and to showcase the great potential for communities in the county of Peterborough to be climate action leaders.”
The SUN Warsaw Action Plan is available online at greenup.on.ca/programs/warsaw/