Umbrella Stormwater Bulletin 47
24 August 2016
Published by Green Communities Canada
Building drought resiliency with green infrastructure
Photo: green infrastructure on Cherry Ave., Tucson by Watershed Management Group.
The summer of 2016 is shaping up to be one of the hottest and driest on record for many regions of Canada. While this has been great for beachgoers, it poses a challenge to the health and resilience of local waterways and water supplies, highlighting the need for enhanced water management.
Occasional drought conditions are natural occurrences, but climate change and development may exacerbate the problem. As we are seeing, climate change can result in more extreme weather, including long stretches with little precipitation, punctuated by intense storms.
Traditional development approaches result in extensive hardened surfaces, which block rainwater from infiltrating into the ground and replenishing valuable groundwater stores. This groundwater is important for maintaining baseflows in our rivers and streams during periods of low precipitation.
Low impact development (LID)/ green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) approaches have been shown to capture and filter stormwater. By soaking rain into the ground where it can recharge aquifers, or harvesting it for reuse, we can make cities and agriculture more resilient to drought.
â€œRainfall and stormwater are a resource to be harnessed, not a waste to be disposed of,â€ says Christine Zimmer of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVC). CVC and partners have installed LID features at a number of locations and are actively monitoring their performance in storm and drought conditions. CVC worked with the City of Mississauga and Peel District School Board to design, install and monitor an LID bioretention practice located on Elm Drive in Mississauga.
Breaking ground in Ontario.Green Communities Canada members in Peterborough, Thunder Bay, and Kingston are launching an innovative program to help flood-prone neighbourhoods take preventive steps to help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather. Funded through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the initiatives will support neighbourhood work-bees to build rain gardens, install rain barrels, and implement a variety of other green infrastructure measures that help to soak up rain on site. This collective action will have a positive impact on individual homes, the neighbourhood as a whole, and local waterways.
Participate in federal infrastructure consultation.The Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition (GIO) is calling on organizations to participate in an opportunity to influence federal infrastructure spending. GIO is encouraging the infrastructure ministry to incorporate support for green infrastructure as â€˜measures that maintain/restore ecosystem servicesâ€™â€”their full statement can be seen here. If you are interested in supporting a dedicated â€œliving green infrastructureâ€ fund as part of Infrastructure Canadaâ€™s current consultation please sub it your comments online prior to 16 September 2016.
Salvaging green space in growing cities.A city councillor is wanting to depave a parking-lot in the Toronto downtown core. Councillor Joe Cressy states â€œWeâ€™ve swung too far to the other spectrum that weâ€™ve built it up without making it livable. If we do not do it now, there will not be the land to do it in the future.â€ In other areas of the city individuals and organisations have been using a variety of tactics to build and conserve park space in the face of booming development. For example the Park People are working to establish a 5 km green corridor that connects two centrally located downtown neighbourhoods.
Alberta investing in flood and drought resiliency. The province of Alberta is investing nearly $1 million in projects that will help to restore and protect a healthy watershed through shoreline projects and green stormwater infrastructureâ€”as well as provide education about best management practices. â€œImproving natural watersheds is an important part of our plan to help vulnerable communities like Calgary and others across the province adapt to a changing climate,â€ said Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, â€œThese projects will enhance our natural environment and reduce the impact of both floods and drought.â€
Putting more green into asset management.Earlier this summer the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure issued a draft discussion paper on potential municipal asset management regulation. In a written response, the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition (GIO) is urging the minister to require municipalities to consider the value of ecosystem services (natural and human made green infrastructure) from the earliest stages of asset planningâ€”including runoff reduction, drinking water supply, and urban coolingâ€”as a necessary and cost-effective complement to conventional grey infrastructure.
Low-income areas need more green space. A mapping tool developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency and used by the Trust for Public Land, has identified a correlation between low income neighbourhoods and the lack of tree canopy and green infrastructure. As a result, already vulnerable neigbourhoods are more likely to be impacted by extreme heat, and flooding-- and do not have the financial means manage these impacts (through well designed homes, cooling systems, or flood clean-up). This GIS mapping tool will now allow policy makers to identify where investments in green infrastructure need to be prioritized to help protect low income neighbourhoods.
Applying asset management to stormwater.This guidebook from the City of Scranton, Pennsylvania provides an example of how to integrate and enhance water resource infrastructure investments in order to meet stormwater targets. A Canadian example of asset management that includes stormwater and green infrastructure can also be found here.
The impact of heavy rain events on stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is a main driver of non-point source pollution and other major problems for urbanized areas. This study examines the impact of climate change and resulting intense rain events on stormwater runoff in urban watersheds.
Overcoming Low Impact Development Barriers in Stormwater Management Webinar. Webinar. 22 September 2016. 1-2:30pm (EDT). Presented by Credit Valley Conservation. Register online.
Weathering the drought â€” using green stormwater infrastructure to manage the impact of dry seasons. Webinar. 28 September 2016. 1-2pm (EDT). Presented by Catlow Shipek, Policy and Technical Director, Watershed Management Group. Register online.
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.