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Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin 40
20 January 2016
Published by Green Communities Canada

Green Streets!
Workshop on green infrastructure in road rights-of-way


On 1 March, 2016, Green Communities Canada and Credit Valley Conservation are hosting a workshop Roads and Runoff: implementing green streets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (Clarke Memorial Hall, 9-4pm. $40 entrance fee includes lunch and refreshments). See agenda and register.

The workshop is targeted at decision-makers, practitioners, and others with an interest in the potential for managing urban rainfall in rights-of-way. It will feature keynote speaker Robert Goo of the USEPA, and other speakers from City of Mississauga, City of Toronto, Region of Peel and the Town of Halton Hills.

There are nearly 200,000 km of roads in Ontario, creating over 1,100 square kilometers of impervious surface. Twenty-five millimeters of rainfall across the province generates over 25 billion litres of stormwater runoff from road surfaces, and millions of kilograms of pollution. Most of this pollution ends up in the Great Lakes.

Managing road runoff through rain gardens, bioswales, infiltration galleries or urban trees in the rights-of-way reduces runoff volumes and stormwater pollution. It can also make streets safer and more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists, while sequestering carbon and reducing the urban heat island.

Some cities are now beginning to institutionalize this approach, through green streets policies. Toronto is currently developing Green Streets Technical Guidelines to be used in conjunction with its Complete Streets guidelines. Philadelphia and Boston both take similar approaches.


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Latest news

Climate change is costly.  A study commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates the direct and indirect economic impacts of climate change using case studies from Halifax and Mississauga. In both cities, as storm strengths are adjusted using different climate change scenarios, costs increased by millions of dollars per storm. In Mississauga, 96% of properties expected to be impacted by flooding from stormwater are residential.

Condition of Canadian infrastructure in decline. While the 2016 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card rates 77% of municipal stormwater infrastructure in good or very good condition, reinvestment rates are too low and the condition of stormwater infrastructure is expected to decline (along with all other types of infrastructure). Only 16% of municipalities are factoring climate adaptation into decision-making about stormwater infrastructure.

Nature’s riches. The free services that nature supplies are rarely quantified but growing research within the environmental and economic community is placing a dollar value on the benefits that nature provides, sometimes called natural capital. The values are proving to be much more than anticipated. For example a single beaver’s landscape and wetland management is valued at $120,000/ year and services provided by Toronto’s urban forests are valued at $7 billion.
 
Green infrastructure at home.  A housing development in Oklahoma has constructed 17 lots using conventional stormwater management measures and 17 lots designed with rain gardens, rain barrels, porous pavement, and downspouts that have been diverted to capture rain water. Monitoring of the sites since 2013 has found that the "greened" lots have reduced nitrogen in runoff by 30%, suspended sediment by 32%, and phosphorus by 152% compared to the conventionally built section. Similar studies with positive results are being conducted in Ontario by Credit Valley Conservation.

Limitations of flood mapping. The Insurance Bureau of Canada is advocating for a national flood program. The first activity that will be undertaken is creating flood risk maps. It will be important to include areas that are not traditionally seen as flood-prone – much of the flooding that takes place in cities today happens nowhere near rivers and lakes.  It should include region- wide initiatives to create infiltration landscapes across watersheds so waterways and areas with high water tables are not overburdened, resulting in more extreme flooding.

Useful resources

Quantifying the effectiveness of street-level green infrastructure. Kent State University and Cleveland Metroparks researchers examined the hydrological effectiveness of street- connected bioretention cells, rain gardens, and rain barrels. The study found that green infrastructure retrofits can be effective in reducing stormwater flows but that differences in design and construction can influence the level of benefit.

Stormwater pond and wetland inspection and maintenance guide. This Canadian produced guide is an updated version of the 1999 Stormwater Management Facility Sediment Maintenance Guide. The 2015 edition has been broadened to include the full life cycle of ponds and wetlands - as well as up to date information on maintenance practices to maintain the effectiveness and life of these systems while minimizing cost.

Events

Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavement Training. 8 February. Ottawa, Ontario. Registration and details (registration is limited to staff of municipal and government agencies and design professionals working on municipal projects). Hosted by The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute and the City of Ottawa.

Implementing Community-wide Green Stormwater Infrastructure. 9 February. Ottawa, Ontario. Federation of Canadian Municipalities: Sustainable Communities Conference. Registration and details. Workshop made possible by FCM’s Green Municipal Fund and presented by Green Communities Canada and Sustainable Prosperity.

Roads and runoff: implementing green streets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. 1 March 2016. Clarke Memorial Hall, Mississauga. Register now. Supported by the Places to Grow Implementation Fund.

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, biweekly 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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