Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin | 22 Apr 2015 : 23

Photo via 12,000 rain gardens

Rain gardens- 
an easy win for stormwater in your community

Rain gardens are inexpensive and simple to build. They are an environmentally sound solution to urban stormwater runoff with the added benefit of beautifying city streets and neighbourhoods.

Rain gardens help to reduce the amount of runoff and pollution entering storm sewers, improving the quality of water entering local waterbodies. And they can help reduce standing water and the potential for home flooding.

A growing number of North American cities realize the benefits of this simple green infrastructure, and support the installation of rain gardens.

Calgary has created two large demonstration rain gardens in an area where traditional stormwater management technologies were not feasible. Thunder Bay, in partnership with EcoSuperior, created a Rain Garden Rebate program. Community members can receive up to $500 towards the creation of a rain garden on their property. The City is also providing free courses on proper construction and maintenance.


Contribute to the bulletin!

Let us know if you have a green infrastructure project or story that should be featured in the blog, a news item you'd like to share, or an event that Umbrella subscribers would be interested in. Email us or contribute to the thread in The Umbrella.

Latest news

Saving Lake Simcoe. Urban stormwater runoff is now the largest source of phosphorus to Lake Simcoe. Through innovative partnerships with developers and the building industry, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) is helping to encourage onsite infiltration of rain. The Rainscaping program provides guidance for how to incorporate Low Impact Development stormwater management into new development and retrofits. Read the full article on page 11 of the spring issue of Influents magazine.

Revitalizing communities with green infrastructure. Detroit struggles with many issues, among them poverty, decreased population, abandoned houses, crime, aging infrastructure and degraded water quality. Green infrastructure helps to solve several problems at once. The City is repurposing vacant land to absorb water, reduce pollution, and take pressure off existing systems. At the same time, this creates beautiful green spaces which improve the streetscapes and property values.

Helping plants work harder. It’s well known that vegetation filters stormwater runoff and removes pollutants. Researchers in Utah are studying how adding citric acid to bioretention cells improves uptake of metals by plants. They are also studying which types of plants are most effective at removing different kinds of pollution.

Reusing the rain. Canberra’s first neighbourhood-scale stormwater harvesting system will reduce sediment and nutrients in waterways by 50%. The water is collected and filtered in constructed wetlands and then pumped out to irrigate urban green spaces. "This is a prime example of water-sensitive urban design that will improve water quality in Lake Burley Griffin, help the city adapt to climate change, and provide recreational facilities," says Australian Environment Minister Steve Corbell.

Upgrade or infiltrate? Meaford, Ontario can avoid a sewage plant upgrade by infiltrating more stormwater and conserving water. "Right now, we're treating rain water. If we don't do something about it we're looking at an expansion of the plant for 20 or 30 million dollars," says Meaford Director of Finance Darcy Chapman. By disconnecting downspouts and other illegal connections to the sewer system, the municipality may not need to upgrade the treatment plant for another 20 years.

Innovative stormwater infrastructure act. Legislation introduced this week in the U.S. Senate promotes the use of innovative stormwater solutions and provides technical assistance to states, local governments, and the private sector. It would also invest in grants for community-based stormwater control projects and establish Centers of Excellence for implementing management practices for stormwater control.

Absorb runoff for swimmable beaches. South Shore beach in Milwaukee County is often closed due to high levels of E.coli, and stormwater runoff is the main source of pollution. To help make the beach swimmable again, an adjacent parking lot is being replaced with permeable pavers. This is just one of many innovative rainwater management projects in Milwaukee, which also boasts a large greenhouse which harvests rainwater for irrigation.

Useful sites

Adaptation to Climate Change Team. Based out of Simon Fraser University, this is the only university-based think tank in North America dedicated to climate change adaptation. The website shares the latest research in a number of areas, including extreme weather and water management.

RE.invest initiative. The initiative is a collaboration among eight U.S. partner cities and leading engineering, law, and finance firms to create new public-private partnerships for resilient infrastructure. The website features reports from each of the participating cities on their progress towards resilient planning processes.


Infiltration in low permeability soils: lessons from the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program. Umbrella webinar. 24 April, 12-1pm EDT. Dean Young of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority presents. Organized by Green Communities Canada.  Register here.

USEPA Green infrastructure webcast series. This series is geared towards public officials and practitioners just beginning to implement green infrastructure, as well as those looking to enhance established programs. Next presentation is 5 May on Getting More from your Stormwater Infrastructure.

Ontario Climate Consortium 2015. 11 May, 2015. Hamilton, Ontario. Ready, steady, adapt: leading adaptation through collaboration.

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

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Conference 2015. 17-19 June. Sarnia, Ontario. Theme: bridging innovation and change. Early bird deadline 30 April.

Livable cities forum 2015. 28-30 September. Calgary, Alberta. Building flood resilient communities. Early bird deadline 1 May.

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.

Copyright © 2015 RAIN Community Solutions, All rights reserved.


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