Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin #34 | 30 Sep 15 Published by Green Communities Canada

Seattle: making the most of green infrastructure investments

Photo credit: Seattle Public Utilities

When land is being torn up anyway, there are often opportunities for managing runoff with green infrastructure.

Regulating new development and redevelopment projects to manage stormwater on site is becoming the norm in many cities. However, in most cities, development and redevelopment is only a small portion of the land area. In order to meet water quality and flood protection goals, municipalities are getting creative with finding opportunities to manage stormwater.

Seattle provides one great example. When a major redevelopment was planned for Yale Avenue, the developer would ordinarily have been required to manage the runoff from the impervious area on the site.  But Seattle Public Utilities saw an even greater opportunity – to manage polluted runoff from over 400 acres of impervious surface that flowed nearby through an underground stormwater pipe and discharged to an urban lake.

This runoff was not the responsibility of the developer, however he cooperated with the utility to combine the project with the installation of four blocks of bioswales in the rights of way which would treat stormwater coming from the larger impervious area.  The “Swale on Yale”, the first stage of which was completed in 2013 (the entire project will be finished by 2017) will treat 190 million gallons of stormwater annually.

Like many U.S. cities,...
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Latest news

Using urban trees for stormwater management.  Rain Community Solutions has collaborated with LEAF and the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition to host a webinar featuring tree expert Peter MacDonagh, of the Kestrel Design Group. Peter is an expert in the use of trees for stormwater management and will present his ground breaking work in policy development, research quantifying tree stormwater benefits, and techniques for maximizing tree stormwater benefits. For more details and to register can be found online.

Evaporation as a new approach to stormwater mitigation. Infiltration and stormwater capture are often the first approaches that come to mind for managing rain where it falls. Researchers are now examining methods of construction that mimic how rainfall is managed by forests, where 50% of rainfall is evapotranspirated. A reduction in runoff will significantly decrease the amount of pollutants entering local water bodies.

Complementing grey infrastructure with green. The City of Edmonton is using green infrastructure to meet provincial targets for stormwater pollution entering the North Saskatchewan River. Green infrastructure is generally more attractive than grey- but it can also be less expensive and a more effective and adaptive solution than traditional civil works projects.

Vote for water.  Although intimately tied to many of the leading election issues, Canadian water has been missing from the election debates. Our Living Waters is asking organizations and individuals to sign a call to action demanding that federal leaders protect freshwater and the Hamilton Spectator is calling to to put the health of the Great Lakes on the election agenda.

Lessons learned from large-scale GI pilot project. The city of Kansas completed a green infrastructure pilot project that retrofitted rights of way in a 744- acre residential subdivision to absorb runoff. Lessons learned from this project are being used to plan for a 25-year $2.5 billion project that utilizes green infrastructure to reduce stormwater overflows.

Whole watershed management. Researchers in the United States have released the first continent-wide multifactor analysis of climate and land cover effects on watersheds. Research supports the benefits of using green infrastructure to build resilience in watershed ecosystems.

Singapore's a sponge. Half of the land area of Singapore is equipped to capture rainwater. By recycling the rainwater through city-wide built-in runoff capture systems Singapore is reducing the cost of water treatment and its environmental impact.

Keep it clean! Microbeads, triclosan, and plastics have all been in the news recently for their detrimental impact on lake and river ecosystems. It is time to really start thinking about the impact of the cleaning products we are using in our homes, and start using better alternatives.

Useful resources

Drinking water advisory app. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s Drink Guide is a smartphone app that alerts you to drinking water advisories in communities all across Canada.

Role of green infrastructure in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Created by the European Environmental Agency, this technical report explores how GI can contribute to mitigating adverse effects of extreme weather with a focus on flood protection, storm surge protection, mass stabilization (landslides and avalanches) and carbon stabilization.

Green infrastructure opportunities that arise during municipal operations. This guide provides approaches that local government and municipal program managers in small to midsize communities can use to incorporate GI, easily and economically, into work they are doing in public spaces. Created by the USEPA, the document has many applicable suggestions for Canadian cities.


Using Trees for Stormwater Management. Webinar. 7 October, 1-2pm EDT. Webinar. Registration and details online. Hosted by RAIN Community Solutions in partnership with LEAF and Green Infrastructure Ontario. $50- subsidies available.

Advancing Integrated Water Management. Webinar. 14 October, 11am EDT. Registration and details online. Hosted by Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

Winter weather O&M for green infrastructure. Webinar. 3 November. Registration and details available in late October. Hosted by USEPA. Free.

Implementing green infrastructure in rural and growing communities. 8 December. Webinar. Registration and details available in late November. Hosted by USEPA. Free.

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 © 2015 Green Communities Canada, All rights reserved.


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