Saturated buffer installed in Ontario

Drainage Contractor
Friday, 25 May 2018
By Drainage Contractor
In early May, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority staff led the installation of a saturated buffer project. This agricultural best management practice (BMP) is aimed at reducing phosphorus and nitrogen delivery to the Thames River, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie in Ontario.

The saturated buffer concept involves intercepting a subsurface tile drainage system and rerouting the flow into a shallow, perforated drain tile that extends laterally along the stream buffer. A control structure with gates forces water into this lateral line rather than allowing it to flow straight into the stream. Drainage water then seeps from the perforated pipe through the shallow riparian zone, where vegetation can take up the water and nutrients.

During high drainage flow events, the control structure allows a portion of the flow to overtop the gates and go directly into the stream and not back up into the landowner’s tile drainage system. This practice may allow up to 60 per cent or more of the tile drain flow to be directed through the buffer.

The project was installed through funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, with in-kind support from Western University. It will serve as a demonstration and research site to showcase this new BMP and test its effectiveness.

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