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Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin 44
19 May 2016
Published by Green Communities Canada

Incenting Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management


Author:
Sara Jane O’Neill
Senior Research Associate, Sustainable Prosperity
Every city faces costs associated with water management – among them the capital and operating costs of moving and treating stormwater. Globally, many municipalities are recognizing the role of “green infrastructure”, such as rain gardens, bioswales, and urban forests, for providing natural and cost- effective stormwater management services. While municipalities can easily plan and implement green infrastructure opportunities on public lands, harnessing opportunities on extensive areas of private property presents a challenge. Here,  Market Based Instruments (MBIs) – including stormwater user fees – are an effective economic tool.

Over 15,000 cities in the United States have implemented some form of stormwater user fee or utility. That number is smaller in Canada, but growing, including Victoria, Kitchener, Waterloo, Mississauga, Edmonton, and Saskatoon.

Why introduce a Market Based Instrument? Stormwater management services have traditionally been covered by property taxes, meaning that property owners pay a set fee that does not reflect their actual usage amount. Additionally, there are no dedicated funds for maintenance and renewal of this infrastructure. Moving to a user-pay system creates an opportunity to encourage property owners to capture rain on site and reduces the amount of runoff entering the municipal stormwater system. The funds acquired through stormwater fees also provides a dedicated municipal revenue stream for infrastructure renewal.

In Canada, the use of green infrastructure for stormwater management is gaining momentum. The City of Vancouver recently proposed a long-term target to capture and divert 90 percent of its average annual rainfall to green infrastructure. The City of Kitchener is developing an Integrated Stormwater Master Plan that encourages the use of green infrastructure. How can municipalities encourageincent even more green infrastructure? There are stormwater user fee credit or discount programs. For example, the City of Victoria’s Rainwater Rewards Program, provides an additional incentive for property owners to manage rainwater on site. The City of Philadelphia’s SMIP and GARP programs, provide grants to property owners and/or contractors for green infrastructure projects. In Philadelphia’s case, they have found it to be 60-65 percent cheaper to invest in these projects on private property than construct projects on public lands.

Washington, D.C. has developed a Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) trading market...[Read more]

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NEWS

RAIN Community Solutions wins Minister’s award of excellence. Last week Green Communities Canada (GCC) achieved the 2015 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence for RAIN Community Solutions. The award recognizes the work of GCC and its member organizations in building support for stormwater innovation in communities across Ontario.   

Keeping the heat-off cyclists and walkers with permeable paving. The city of Taipei, Taiwan has been testing permeable pavement as a method for reducing the Urban Heat Island effect. They have found that the daily peak temperatures on sidewalks and bike lanes to be between 2 to 3.5℃ less than those with non-permeable surfaces. They also found that the permeable pavement reduced stormwater runoff by 44%. Permeable pavement will continue to be installed on a city-wide basis as a part of Taipei’s ‘Sponge City’ project. 

Permeable parking in Toronto. This month a 120,000 sq ft parking lot at George Brown College was retrofitted with a permeable grid system that reduces soil compaction, allowing rain to filter into the ground. This will be the largest of such systems installed in Toronto.
 
Green infrastructure can easily be added to the municipal planning toolkit. Researchers from Griffin University (Australia) believe that the perceived difficulties of incorporating green stormwater infrastructure into planning are mostly psychological; and in reality, green stormwater infrastructure can easily be integrated into existing planning processes, common throughout the world. Examples of successful implementation include Toronto’s green roof bylaw- which requires the installation of green roofs on new developments over 2,000m².

Breaking down silos with a Resilience Officer. Chicago has created a new position to address the city’s most difficult problems, including crime, poverty and aging infrastructure. The position will examine the benefits of green stormwater infrastructure and other environmental services, for sustainability and livability.

RESOURCES

City parks, clean water- making great places using green infrastructure. This report examines the successes and challenges of parks that are designed to absorb rain as a part of the larger community’s stormwater management. The report examines the technologies used, and the political issues involved in using green infrastructure to create ‘water-smart’ parks.

Making cities livable: blue-green infrastructure and its impact on society. A summary of research done by the Ramboll Foundation and Ramboll Liveable Cities Lab on the societal benefits of blue-green infrastructure (as referred to as green infrastructure, low impact development). The summary outlines the potential constraints and opportunities for its implementation in dense urban areas, and practical recommendations for decision-makers.

EVENTS

Stormwater Retention Credits-A Fresh Idea. Webinar. 25 May 2016. 1-2pm (EDT). Hosted by RAIN Community Solutions and presented by Matthew Espie of the District of Columbia, Department of Energy and Environment. Register now

Leveraging Infrastructure Investments in Ontario. Forum. 26 May 2016. 9:30am-3pm (EDT). Toronto, Ontario. Hosted by Ontario Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (OCSI). Registration and information online.

Grey to Green Conference on Green Infrastructure and Climate Change. 1-4 June 2016. Ryerson University, Toronto. Detailed agenda and online registration.

2016 Livable Cities Forum. 12-14 September 2016. Halifax, Nova Scotia. Register by 16 June for early-bird discount 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 RAIN Community Solutions, All rights reserved.


 

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