City completes Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland

Health • Posted by ottawastart on September 27, 2007


Today, the City officially opened the Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland, in the city’s south end. This innovative stormwater management facility  is just over 2 kilometres in length, serving a catchment area of 1,418 hectares. 

At an investment of $13 million, it is certainly one of the City’s largest undertakings to significantly improve the management of a community’s stormwater,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien. “The City’s commitment to work with the community to preserve and enhance Ottawa’s environment and to minimize Ottawa’s ecological footprint was clearly demonstrated in this project.”

The Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland was built in two phases over three years. It is designed to collect and treat stormwater runoff from three main sources, Sawmill Creek, Cahill Creek and the Plante Drive storm sewer, before it flows into the Rideau River.

“Residents will benefit from this project for decades to come,” said River Ward Councillor Maria McRae. “This constructed wetland will preserve the Sawmill Creek watershed by filtering out sediment and pollutants, reducing down stream erosion, and controlling flood waters during heavy rains.”

The site is designed in three separate pond cells. Each pond has varying depths, shallow as 30 cm in areas to foster wetland plants and deep as two meters in other areas. In the wetland section over 1,000 aquatic plants such as cattails, willows and sagebrush have been planted. As stormwater runoff flows through the facility, the sediments and pollutants have a chance to settle out. The treated water is then discharged back into Sawmill Creek. During heavy rains, the constructed wetland can hold up to 190,000 cubic meters of water, enough to fill about 75 Olympic-size swimming pools. 

By managing stormwater through efforts like the Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland, the City aims to reduce the negative impacts of development on local rivers and streams. As the City continues to grow, so does the potential for increased impacts on the health of local waterways.  To address these pressures, the City is now developing a Stormwater Management Strategy. The strategy will address newly developing areas as well as the need to retrofit older areas like the Sawmill Creek subwatershed that developed largely without stormwater management.  To learn more about the City’s Stormwater Management Strategy, visit

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