Cathy Blott

Self Employed Field Biologist

I have worked in the field of environmental management in Ontario over 30 years and have had the great benefit of good mentorship over the years from experienced biologists. My first mentor Dr. R. Jon Planck taught me to see functions on the landscape and observe and record the synthesis of ecology. He taught me to measure water, which is the basis of ecological function, and he taught me to improve the landscape at every opportunity. Jon taught me to work with all disciplines (engineers, hydrologists, geologists, planners etc), taught me to use critical thinking, and to go to the top if necessary to make necessary decisions or changes in policy. Working 9 years for Dr. Planck exposed me to the forefront of landscape restoration in Ontario and shaped the context and expectations of all my work thereafter.

My second mentor Anne Yagi taught me a great deal about aquatic and terrestrial wildlife through years of hands-on monitoring, restoration and research, and taught me to appreciate the small steps toward restoration as great steps forward.

My field work continues to be based in monitoring of landscape systems toward achieving ecological improvement or restoration of landscape systems, focusing on habitat design and stewardship in the Carolinian zone of Ontario along the north shore of Lake Erie. I also teach and mentor promotion of Overland Stormwater Treatment as a big part of the answer to sustainable and healthy use of resoures, best management of stormwater, and recovery of at risk aquatic and terrestrial species. 

The Humber Flats Ecopark in Richmond Hill, designed by Dr. Planck, is the only functioning Overland Stormwater Treatment system built in Ontario.  The Ecopark was built by shaping the landscape to create a collection system of surface valleys to convey and treat stormwater for a 120ha (300acre) mixed use subdivision. The design recreated 1st and 2nd order streams on the landscape to maximize onsite infiltration and biological assimilation of stormwater. (Instead of collecting stormwater in catchments and conveying in underground pipes to a central treatment facility). And the design maximized the mix of nature and people

Humber Flats Ecopark site was one of my first field projects conducting wildlife use assessments, benthic surveys and collecting water quality data prior to site alteration, during construction, and following the completion of the site development. Data we collected showed creation of  the overland system discharged clear, clean water, functioning as a "coolwater" regime. Today the Humber Flats Ecopark Overland Treatment System is mapped and referred to with signage as a tributary of the East Humber River, indicating how effective the goal of re-creating 1st and 2nd order streams was achieved (within 25 years).

The Humber Flats Ecopark Overland Stormwater Treatment system, prior to its approval in 1996, first required lobbying of the Ontario government to change policy in Ontario to allow for overland stormwater treatment. Today, we are now at the stage of lobbying the Ontario government again to create criteria specific to measuring function of overland stormwater treatement systems. Currently criteria exist only to asess function of centralized stormwater facilities and these criteria are not appropriate to assess function of overland systems.

The overland stormwater system is coupled with recreational trail and together provides the example of making space functional for multiple purposes to create a better whole. Treatment of stormwater is acheived as close as possible to where the rain falls, and stormwater is absorbed or flows across the site within continuous habitat of native meadow, shrubland and forested valley, along which runs the 2km (1.2mile) circular recreational trail. Stormwater treatment is part of healthy life style and the central circular collection valley maximizes exposure and access to nature and fosters stewardship of the habitat. 

And because the bottom line always includes $$$, the message is that Oveland Stormwater Treatment costs less to build; it requires less engineering services, and less materials and less machine time to build compared to piping undergrond to a central treatment facility. Overland Treatment Systems are simple in delisgn and have low mantenance costs over time. These savings today can be passed on to the home buyer and can help make housing more affordable.

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Presentations by Cathy Blott
Humber Flats Overland Trail/Swale Stormwater Treatment: superior infiltration, water quality, connectivity, habitat creation, social/recreational well-being, at a fraction of the cost to build and maintain
Humber Flats Overland Trail/Swale Stormwater Treatment: superior infiltration, water quality, connectivity, habitat creation, social/recreational well-being, at a fraction of the cost to build and maintain
Cathy Blott