Drainage Inside the Dike

Transforming space into engaging community places

The Community of St. Norbert and Water

The community of St. Norbert has an essential relationship with water. Over the centuries and especially today, water continues to present ongoing challenges and unique opportunities to its residents. St. Norbert is located alongside the Red River, at the foot of the Red River Floodway gates, and is surrounded by a system of primary dikes. The community seeks innovative and creative solutions to the ongoing challenges water presents.

About Us

Local organizations have united to form the St. Norbert Water Stewardship Coalition to address yet another water challenge within the community.
Sitting water resulting from seasonal rains, melting snow, parking lot and building run off - or stormwater as it is commonly referred to - is restricting community use of a centrally located 11 hectare green space. The area is located in and around the St. Norbert Community Centre, St.Norbert Foundation (Farmersí Market & Place Saint-Norbert), Ecole Noel Ritchot and the Behavioural Health Foundation. Soccer fields are under water, the St. Norbert Farmers' Market site is plagued by sitting water, community gardens are being drowned in excess water, Ecole Noel Ritchot's fitness and recreational programs are restricted to "dry days only", fitness trails have grown over with weeds, and the list goes on!

The St. Norbert Water Stewardship Coalition formed to
  • Reduce excess stormwater in an environmentally sustainable manner through the development of bioretention systems
  • Contribute to improving the health of the Lake Winnipeg Watershed
  • Simultaneously integrate engaging community spaces and amenities to improve, expand, and maximize community activities.

Stormwater Management / Bioretention Systems

Water respects no legal property boundaries. In St. Norbert, water is restricted from flowing naturally into the Red River because of the primary diking system constructed to protect the community. Attempts to reduce excess stormwater through the use of traditional drainage systems is not proving effective, is costly to expand on and has limited effect on improving the Lake Winnipeg Watershed.
The St. Norbert Water Stewardship Coalition is working with local, national and international experts to develop an innovative and sustainable approach to manage the excess stormwater. Stormwater best management practices are being used to develop bioretention systems throughout the 11 hectares of green space.
The use of bioretention systems is a stormwater management practice developed in the early 1990s. Bio-retention systems are designed to mimic processes that occur in the natural environment. These systems and devices filter and store runoff water from rainstorms and snow melt, rather than being flushed through the stormwater sewer system.

The site will showcase the use of bioretention systems to enable:
  • homeowners to improve drainage on their property and positively impact the Lake Winnipeg Watershed,
  • mid size commercial businesses, organizations and institutions to improve, drainage on their properties and positively impact the Lake Winnipeg Watershed
  • innovative farming practices resulting in a positive impact on farm production / revenues and the Lake Winnipeg Watershed.

The site will also highlight:
  • innovative work occurring in Libau Marsh and other areas of Manitoba in relation to Manitoba's emerging bioeconomy,
  • Communities with a long history of living inside a dike and their ability to effectively deal with water - which is becoming increasingly relevant as dikes now protect so many properties throughout Manitoba.

The bioretention systems incorporate the use of native plants, trees and materials which will also simultaneously improve the habitat and environment on the 11 hectares of green space. Improved grounds at the Farmers' Market, expanded fitness trails, soccer fields, natural playgrounds, and additional improvements and amenities will be incorporated throughout the development of the bioretention systems. The project is expected to be completed over a five to six year period.


Water Flows
Presentation - Dec 8, 2011 (English)
Project Timeline
Area Pond Pond

Just the Facts

  • 1. The central greenspace in St. Norbert is plagued with standing water and poor drainage as the area is located inside St. Norbert's primary dike system
  • 2. Many of the activities of community organizations are restricted or prevented - all organizations want to improve the property for soccer, football fields, natural playgrounds, expanded Farmers' Market & community gardens, green space and improved natural habitat
  • 3. Once water is addressed, many improvements become possible
  • 4. The St. Norbert Water Stewardship Coalition sees an opportunity to provide water retention in an environmentally responsible way that enhances the greenspace usage