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Stormwater Solutions Bursary Competition 2019

ACAP Cape Breton is now accepting submissions for the Stormwater Solutions bursary competition. This contest is open to grade 12 students in the CBRM. It is a great opportunity for a chance to win a $1,000 or $500 bursary by problem solving and communicating scientific ideas.

This competition is a platform to exercise your creativity, address a real local issue, and gain experience in community engagement. Students are invited to submit an entry (see Contest Rules below) to compete with peers across the municipality.

Submissions are due by May 31, 2019.

All organisms are intimately connected to the environment via water. Stormwater travels over and through land picking up particles along the way, ultimately delivering these particles into aquatic ecosystems such as wetlands, lakes, and oceans.

Students are asked to identify one of many problems arising from urban stormwater and offer a solution in the form of a project proposal.

Theme: Stormwater

How can we address the largest growing source of urban pollution?

Stormwater is rainwater and snowmelt that lands on rooftops, lawns, and other hard surfaces and then runs off over land and into storm drains and waterways. If it can be absorbed into the ground it’s no problem; but in urban areas with limited exposed earth, it can cause flooding and strain on infrastructure. Urban development which increases impermeable surfaces that are unable to absorb water, combined with more frequent and extreme storm events caused by climate change means that stormwater is posing a greater challenge than we’ve built our cities to accommodate.

Stormwater Problems


A good way to imagine how water carries pollutants is to visualize litter being carried down your street in a rain storm. Stormwater is picking up our litter and depositing it in rivers, streams, and ultimately the ocean.

Increased run-off

In urban areas, the land has many impervious surfaces which disrupt the natural cycle in a watershed. Before development, rainfall and snowmelt would infiltrate into the soil to recharge groundwater stores and some would be taken up by plants. Increased run-off causes flooding, erosion, and pollution in developed areas.

Excess Nutrients

Water carries fertilizers from yards or farmland into water bodies. The state of excessive nutrients in the water is called eutrophication, which leads to harmful algae blooms that can stress and/or eliminate aquatic species. These particular algae are toxic, and cause a state of hypoxia (lack of oxygen), preventing plants and fish from obtaining oxygen and sunlight.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that 80% of pollution in the ocean is the result of land runoff. Bacteria, viruses, road salts, heavy metals, debris, oil, fertilizers and pesticides pollute the stormwater, and thus are transported into our storm drains and into the nearest aquatic ecosystem.

Climate Change

In recent years extreme weather events are occurring more often due to climate change. These events cause extensive flooding in many neighborhoods, and millions of dollars in damage. It is crucial to prepare for the next stormwater challenge so we can stay ahead of the associated issues.

Habitat Loss

All of the above impacts of stormwater lead to habitat loss in various ways. Pollution and contaminants in the water impact the quality of life for aquatic inhabitants. In a natural cycle water is introduced to streams at a slow rate because it has infiltrated through vegetation; however, when run-off races down streets, pipes, parking lots, and rooftops it reaches the stream in excess very soon after rainfall. These surplus water events end up blowing out stream banks in the natural meanders of a stream. This destroys fish and amphibian habitat. It also rips trees and riparian zones apart.

Feel free to look into other issues arising from stormwater

Some tips for mitigating stormwater:

  • take cues from nature

  • slow it down, soak it in

  • filtration

Think outside the box:

Using a popcorn tub, IV bags, binder clips, and other unassuming items, then high school student Hayley Todesco designed a filtration system banking on microbes in sand. Her device provided a method that cleans contaminants in Alberta’s oil sands 14 times faster than methods used at the time.

You are being asked to write a proposal for an idea that can help alleviate stormwater issues. The top two ideas, presented in a clear concise proposal, will win the prize bursaries.

How to write a proposal

1. Introduction
  • Discuss the background. This is where you identify the stormwater issue that you are addressing. Why is it a problem? What are the environmental impacts of this issue?

  • Did you choose a chemistry based problem and solution? Please write out the chemical equation and explain the details for us.

2. Methods
  • Describe your project and how it works.

  • What materials are required? Where is it located in the watershed?

3. Discussion
  • What are your expected outcomes? How does your approach solve the problem? Are there limitations or risks that need to be considered for future use?

4. Literature cited / References
  • List at least 2 sources of information that you used. Be sure to read over the competition rules!

-Prize Breakdown-

1st Place


2nd Place


Contest Rules - The contest is open to students living within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

- Proposal must be presented in the proper format (see “How to write a proposal” above).

- If you choose to submit as a team please list the names of each entrant in your submission email. If your proposal wins the prize money will be divided up as many ways as individuals listed in the original submission email.

- Only original work will be accepted. Reproduction of trademarked ideas will not be accepted.

- Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

- Each entry MUST be identified with the name of the student, the school, as well as a phone number. This information must be filled out when the submission is dropped off or in the body of the entry email.

- ACAP Cape Breton and CBRM Wastewater Operations may use your idea for promotional purposes.

- Submissions must be received before the deadline.

- Before submitting check for: Quality! Messaging! Appropriate content!

To submit:

Send your proposal attached in an email to including:

Name, school, and contact phone number in the body of the email

For more information contact Jen at or (902) 567-1628 x206

The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2019.

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