Itâ€™s obvious: water is water -- whether itâ€™s in a lake, in your glass, going down your toilet or raining onto your driveway.
Yet municipalities typically deal with water as three separate services: drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. Decisions about each of these services are made separately, with little consideration for the interaction among them.
This doesnâ€™t make sense for a lot of reasons. Older cities have wastewater and stormwater pipes that are combined, so that heavy rainfall directly impacts wastewater treatment plants. Even in cities that have separated stormwater and wastewater pipes, leaks and cross connections mean that treatment plants are overloaded during storms.
Local recreational surface waters and drinking water sources are impacted from pollution from both wastewater and stormwater.
And groundwater aquifers (also drinking water sources) can lose their recharge capacity when stormwater is not allowed to infiltrate.
To address this problem, the Province of Ontario enacted the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act (WOA) in 2010. The WOA will require municipalities and other water service providers to prepare water sustainability plans that integrate water, wastewater and stormwater management â€“ known as integrated water management (IWM) or the â€œone waterâ€ approach.
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Lessons from science and practice.A new report from the Science Policy Exchange analyzes data on performance of different types of green infrastructure technologies, concluding that bioretention, green roofs and permeable pavement exhibit the best results. It also analyzes the key factors that contribute to the successful adoption of green infrastructure programs.
Can floating solutions fix water woes?Airdrie, AB is piloting vegetated floating islands in one of its stormwater ponds to try to improve water quality. Melbourne is also experimenting with floating parks which incorporate â€œworking vegetationâ€ to improve water quality. And LA is covering its reservoirs with millions of â€œshade ballsâ€ to prevent evaporation. What do you think - sustainable solutions, or expensive engineering techno-fixes?
Rebuilding better. Climate change is here, and around the world natural disasters are forcing communities to rebuild. But cities arenâ€™t always equipped to take climate change into account when renewing infrastructure - funding mechanisms may encourage them to rebuild in the same way, or focus largely on hard engineering flood prevention solutions, which are not adaptable to changing conditions.
Lawn bylaws. Naturally landscaped lawns provide habitat for pollinators, rainwater management, and depending on who you ask, beautify neighbourhoods. Some cities, especially in drought-stricken areas, provide incentives for homeowners to transform their lawns to low-water use native plant gardens. In Canada, cities are more likely to enforce bylaws that require mowed grass lawn. How should cities set the standard for acceptable yard maintenance?
Whatâ€™s the value of water?Communications toolkit from the Value of Water Coalition provides resources that can be used to help build support for investment in water infrastructure.
The Importance of Urban Wetlands.Wetlands in urban areas provide valuable ecosystem services including flood control, pollutant removal, biodiversity support, microclimate modification, carbon sequestration, aesthetic amenity and recreational spaces.
Integrated Water Management Webinar Series. 16 September and 14 October. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is hosting two webinars in the fall: Achieving Habitat Benefits and Community Resilience from Buyout Properties and Advancing Integrated Water Management.
WEFTEC Stormwater Congress. 26-30 September, Chicago. WEFTEC, the water quality event, features 30 sessions and workshops focused on stormwater.
13th Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference. 5-8 October. New York City. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. Cities Alive.
Winter weather O&M for green infrastructure.6 Oct. Webinar. Registration and details available in late September. Hosted by USEPA. Free.
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.