Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin 48

22 September 2016
Published by Green Communities Canada

Changing the way rain is managed in Ontario

Proposed new policies will help transform the way rain is managed in Ontario by reducing non-point source pollution and improving water quality throughout the province. 

These two policies present a rare opportunity to influence a paradigm shift in policy and practice, from drainage and detention to managing rain where it falls, reducing runoff and runoff pollution by implementing green infrastructure/low impact development.

Traditional development approaches result in extensive hardened surfaces, which block rainwater from infiltrating into the ground and replenishing valuable groundwater stores. This groundwater is important for maintaining baseflows in our rivers and streams during periods of low precipitation.

Support for green infrastructure is especially important in light of growing expectations for intensification as a way to concentrate development, avoid sprawl, and protect farmland and natural areas. Intensification makes sense for all sorts of environmental and economic reasons, but it will increase runoff and associated pollution unless countervailing measures are implemented to promote infiltration, evapotranspiration, harvesting and reuse onsite.

The growth plan amendments also support watershed planning using a “one water” approach that addresses potable, stormwater, and sanitary systems jointly. Integrated watershed planning will support green infrastructure by recognizing multiple co-benefits.

A second Ontario policy initiative, led by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, involves the development of a Low Impact Development Guidance Document as a companion to Ontario’s 2003 stormwater guidance manual. A crucial element is the adoption of runoff volume reduction expectations, which will drive uptake of green infrastructure as a means of permanently retaining rainfall onsite.

Draft recommendations from the province’s consultants call for onsite retention of 90 per cent of rainfall events by volume, imitating what happens in nature. In practice, this would mean an average retention target of 27 mm (just over an inch), to be achieved through infiltration and evapotranspiration, although the actual targets vary across the province depending on local rainfall patterns.

Champions of green infrastructure hope these two policy initiatives represent a shift from government support in principle to real action and lasting change. However, neither initiative is perfect – for example...[Read more]




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Green infrastructure is a tool for managing rainfall. So what if it doesn’t rain? On, 28 September the Watershed Management Group (WMG) will be presenting, via webinar, how they are using green infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of drought— registration is available online. Many Canadian cities have been experiencing the driest growing season on record, and climate change experts expect that dry extremes may become the norm. We need to provide opportunities to capture rain for reuse and allow it to soak into the ground where it can recharge groundwater, so cities and agriculture can become more resilient to drought. In Tucson, Arizona – a place where drought is the norm, the WMG is using community-based green stormwater infrastructure to capture water during the rainy season and recharge groundwater in order to mitigate the impacts of the dry seasons.

We love rain gardens, but do you know how to build them? This October, leading North American rain garden expert, Rusty Schmidt, will be coming to Peterborough, Ontario to host a two day workshop on how to design and build rain gardens. Rusty has designed and built over 1000 rain gardens with American projects such as 10,000 Rain Gardens, Metro Blooms and the Blue Thumb Program. Rain gardens are becoming a popular way to help capture and infiltrate rainwater. Landscapers and developers are finding a growing market in creating these beautiful and simple gardens full of plants that capture and infiltrate rainwater. However, very few people in Canada know how to actually build one.

Feds funding naturalization of Toronto Port Lands. The City of Toronto is receiving $32.5 million dollars from Infrastructure Canada to help create 13 hectares of new coastal wetland at the mouth of the Don River to protect the downtown waterfront from flooding. This federal support is significant because it shows that municipal natural infrastructure projects are eligible for the new green infrastructure funds.

Management of stormwater changing in Lake Simcoe watershed. The Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority has updated its stormwater management guidelines to reflect the requirements of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, and current best-in-science stormwater management practices. The updated guidelines include an emphasis on using natural infrastructure to manage rain where it falls. The City of Orillia used the new guidelines to shape its current stormwater management plan—Orillia hopes to see more efficient quantity and sediment control, as well as cost savings.

Multiple cities in Ontario designating a stormwater fee. Following on the heels of Richmond Hill, Mississauga, Kitchener and Waterloo, the City of Vaughan and the City of Guelph will have a designated stormwater service fee as of 2017. Fees will be based on property types and the amount of runoff a property generates. Funds collected through these fees will be designated to help upgrade and maintain stormwater infrastructure, and as a result lessen the impacts of a changing climate and the potentially damaging effects of stormwater.


New Solutions for Sustainable Stormwater Management in Canada. Written by Canadian green economy think tank Sustainable Prosperity for municipal governments this report provides an introduction to stormwater user fees and the various tools that municipalities can implement to better manage urban stormwater through the use of green infrastructure.


Soak it Up! Webinar Series Fall 2016. 1-2pm (EDT). 28 September: Weathering the drought—using green stormwater infrastructure to manage the impact of dry seasons. 13 October: Transforming rainwater management on the Ontario landscape—the changing policy environment. 23 November: Roads and runoff — using green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff from roads and highways. Register online.

How to design and build rain gardens. Workshop. 27-28 October 2016. Peterborough, ON. Limited seats available. Registration starts now.

CitiesAlive: Rising to the Stormwater Challenge. 1-4 November 2016. Washington, DC. Register by 14 October for discounted rate.

Want to see more events? Check out the RAIN Events Calendar for other upcoming green infrastructure workshops, training, webinars and conferences.
The Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin is a free, monthly newsletter on green stormwater infrastructure published by the RAIN Community Solutions program of Green Communities Canada. Our audience is made up of municipal stormwater professionals, policymakers, academics, engineers, conservation authorities, nonprofits, and interested community members. We encourage submissions from our readers. Please contact the editor to submit a news item, blog idea, or event. RAIN Community Solutions builds support for and participation in stormwater innovations that reduce runoff by managing rain where it falls.

Copyright © 2016 Green Communities Canada, All rights reserved.


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