Living Soils Filtration Project

The Town of Okotoks, in partnership with Source 2 Source Environmental Design and Engineering and the Bow River Basin Council (BRBC), is implementing an innovative riparian bioretention stormwater management system at the Town of Okotoks Operations Centre. In addition to the larger stormwater management demonstration project, the University of Calgary (U of C) in partnership with the City of Calgary, Source2Source, the BRBC and the Town are conducting bioretention and filtration research through an active test site within the Town Operations site.

In February of 2018, the Living Soils Filtration Project won the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' (FCM) Sustainable Communities award in the category of Water.  FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards recognize leaders in sustainability from municipalities of all sizes across Canada. Watch the former Town of Okotoks Environment and Sustainability Coordinator deliver a presentation on the project here.

The Living Soil Filtration Project is comprised of both the demonstration and research site. Within the demonstration site, excess water runoff from storm events is slowed and processed through interactions between soil particles, plant roots, microorganisms, insects, and animals. This improves the quality and quantity of the discharged water. The research team is focused on how these processes relate to one another and how these interactions specifically benefit stormwater management.

Image: Okotoks Living Soil Project Concept Plan (Source2Source, 2017)

What is a bioretention system?

Bioretention systems are capable of capturing, filtering, and gradually releasing water, cumulatively preventing excess nutrients and other potentially harmful substances from entering the surface waters of the Sheep River and causing negative environmental impacts downstream. Additionally, riparian bioretention systems provide a buffering effect on the hydrological regime, reducing the risks of flood and drought; increase soil stability, water filtration and storage; and enhance biodiversity and natural esthetics through increased native vegetation cover.

This regionally significant research and education site is ideally located adjacent to the Environmental Education Centre, located within Operations Centre building, and will be notably featured within the facility’s indoor and outdoor learning spaces. 

Last Updated: March 25, 2022