Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin | 20 May 2015 : 25

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Permeable grid systems soak it up


Cities across Canada are exploring the use of permeable pavement as a strategy for stormwater management. Options include permeable asphalt, concrete and pavers. However, grid systems seem to have the most diverse application and to be the most cost-effective.

Plastic grid systems work by providing a strong framework a few inches thick that prevents compaction. When placed above a gravel underlay and filled with stones, grass, or artificial turf, the plastic grid creates a permeable surface that can stand up to light vehicle traffic.

Grid systems are used widely in Europe and the applications for the product seem to be endless -- from shoreline stabilization to city streets. For parks and playgrounds, grid systems help to maintain the vitality of grass by protecting the root structure and helping to maintain level, dry fields.

Grid system units are easy to install and generally half the price of other permeable pavement. EcoRaster, a form of permeable grid system, has been featured in all of our RAIN Permeable Paving Community Workshops. It is made out of recycled plastic bags and has large void spaces that can be filled with a variety of materials, including pea gravel or grass.

Recently, we were excited to hear that the PanAm Games in Toronto will be using EcoRaster on the soccer pitch at the Monarch Park soccer field. According to EcoRaster Sales Representative Souhaila Sarkis, this grid system is being used as a soil stabilizer in areas that commonly get muddy, such as the sidelines and goal box. The permeability of the grid system paired with a drainage system will allow water to percolate down and drain off to the side of the field.

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Latest news

Umbrella webinar series. Two more webinars left in our webinar series Green infrastructure:soaking it up in action. This series is presented by Green Communities Canada. Learn more about the webinars or sign up now!

If you missed any presentations, you can listen to recordings after registering for the series.

Infiltration at LA airport will reduce pollution, replenish aquifers. All over drought-stricken California, cities are realizing the need to treat rain as a resource. A $40 million project at LAX, one of the U.S.’s busiest airports, will use an underground infiltration system to return millions of gallons of rain to the groundwater, instead of letting it run off untreated into the ocean.

Stormwater goes viral. An article by Canadian LID expert Dr.Jennifer Drake was featured on the popular tech web site Gizmodo this past week. The article highlighted how technologies which imitate nature can help to restore natural hydrology, reducing pollution and flooding.

Community-based public-private partnerships. A new report from the USEPA discusses the feasibility, practicality, and benefits of using public-private partnerships (P3s) to assist jurisdictions in the finance, design, construction, and operations & maintenance of an urban stormwater retrofit program. Since many traditional stormwater management programs are not designed to accommodate decentralized green infrastructure, P3s provide a possible alternative model for implementation.

Elm Drive LID project performs beyond expectations. Credit Valley Conservation has released an extensive monitoring report on the Elm Drive green street in Mississauga, installed in 2011. The bioretention and permeable pavement installations on a mixed-use street capture all runoff from 90% of rain events (up to 25mm) and remove 85-95% of pollution, including total suspended solids, metal loadings, and nutrients.

Who pays for stormwater? The City of Ottawa is the latest in a growing number of cities to reconsider water rate structures. Due to the success of water conservation efforts, the City is facing a budget shortfall in maintaining its drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. A lack of understanding of the services being provided has let to public outcry over attempts to charge for stormwater services separately from water usage.

Sustainable stadium. A St Paul, Minnesota 7000-seat baseball stadium is being called the greenest stadium in North America, due to a number of environmental measures, including harvesting stormwater for field irrigation and toilets, and filtering the remaining runoff through sand filters, tree trenches, and rain gardens.


Infrastructure forum. 26 May. Toronto, Ontario. Eco-fiscal challenges to building resilient communities. Presented by the Ontario Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Grey to Green 2015. 1-2 June. Toronto, Ontario. Exploring the economics of urban agriculture and resilience. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

Using the cloud to control the rain: smart stormwater management solutions. 2 June, 2pm EDT. Webinar. Forester University.

Canadian Water Resources Association 2015. 2-4 June. Winnipeg, Manitoba. More extremes? Planning for the future of Canada's water resources.

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Conference 2015. 17-19 June. Sarnia, Ontario. Theme: bridging innovation and change.

Canadian Water Summit. 25 June. Vancouver, BC. The energy of water.

Livable cities forum 2015. 28-30 September. Calgary, Alberta. Building flood resilient communities. ICLEI.

TRCA Living Cities LID Workshops. 28-30 September. Woodbridge, ON. The Living City Campus is offering three events in the fall: Design of infiltration practices workshop, LID construction, inspection and maintenance training, and an LID site tour.

The Umbrella is an online community designed for knowledge-sharing about green stormwater infrastructure. Its members are municipal stormwater professionals, policymakers, academics, engineers, conservation authorities, nonprofits, and interested community members. The Umbrella is managed by Green Communities Canada. Submit an item for an upcoming issue or provide feedback on the bulletin.

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