Author Archives: Partnership for Water Sustainability

  1. China is building 30 ‘sponge cities’ that aim to soak up floodwater and prevent disaster

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    Note to Reader:

    Recent water-centric developments in China and Berlin have caught the attention of the world

    Consider that, in 2013, President Xi Jinping injected a new term into the global urban design vocabulary when he proclaimed that cities should “act like sponges” and launched China’s Sponge City program.

    And then in August 2017, the Senate of Berlin released its Sponge City Strategy. The common guiding philosophy for both? Mimic nature, restore the water balance, adapt to a changing climate.

    Yanweizhou Park in Jinhua, eastern China

    Mimic Nature, Restore the Water Balance, Adapt to a Changing Climate

    “Like many places around the world, Chinese cities are considering ways to combat flooding in the face of climate change,” wrote Leanna Garfield, an innovation reporter at Tech Insider, covering stories about the future of food and cities.

    “The Chinese government is now pursuing an idea that could alleviate the problem: sponge cities.”

    “Many of the projects incorporate green space, like wetlands and bioswales, which naturally help absorb water. The efforts seek to reduce the amount of rainwater runoff.

    The Yanweizhou Park in Jinhua (eastern China) serves as a model for the type of flood-resilient, green infrastructure the country wants to continue building.

    To Learn More:

    To read the complete article as published in Business Insider UK, download a pdf copy of China is building 30 ‘sponge cities’ that aim to soak up floodwater and prevent disaster


  2. FLASHBACK TO 2003: “Home Depot established a BC precedent when it implemented a deep deep-well system for injecting rainwater runoff,” stated Kevin Lagan, formerly Director of Operational Services with the City of Courtenay

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    In October 2010, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and the BC Water and Waste Association co-hosted a 2-day workshop titled ‘From Rain to Resource: Stormwater Management in a Changing Climate‘. Day 1 was geared toward technical operational and planning staff . The focus was on site-level best practices and tools to deal with various situationsOne of the case studies was the Home Depot development in the City of Courtenay.

    Capture Rain Where It Falls

    “In 2003, the Home Depot development application in the City of Courtenay was to build a store and parking lot covering 90% of a four hectare second growth coniferous forest property,” stated Kevin Lagan, Director of Operational Services. He told the Home Depot story at the Okanagan From Rain to Resource Workshop.

    2Kevin_120p“The City required that post-development rainwater and stormwater flows leaving the site were equal to or less than the pre-development flows. For this property that was effectively zero.”

    “How did the developer meet this requirement of replacing a forest with impervious areas and has the solution been successful? Learn about the challenges encountered and the innovative solution used.”

    “Home Depot established a BC precedent when it implemented a deep deep-well system for injecting rainwater runoff and recharging the underlying groundwater aquifer.”

    To Learn More:

    Download a PDF copy of Home Depot Development: Innovative On-Site Rainwater/Stormwater Measures at a Commercial Site, the PowerPoint presentation by Kevin Lagan.

    Click on Innovation in the Comox Valley: First Wal-Mart, Then Home Depot, posted on the Water Bucket in October 2007 — The Wal-Mart development in the City of Courtenay precipitated the beginning of a major change in how the City administers the zoning/development/approval process, collaborates with other agencies and also manages the rainwater resource.

    CourtenayHomeDepot_location map aerial

    An Early Application of the Water Balance Model

    “The Home Depot project was one of the earliest applications of the Water Balance Model when we created this web-based tool in 2003. Significantly, Home Depot is situated on high ground that drains onto prime agriculture land. Because the City of Courtenay was a charter member of the Inter-Governmental Partnership, the Agricultural Land Commission linked its approval to use of the Water Balance 2005_Ted-van-der-Gulik_120pModel,” recalls Ted van der Gulik, Chair.

    “Subsequently, the City co-hosted one of our first Water Balance Model training workshops at North Island College in May 2004. The target audience was the streamkeeper commmunity. Our purpose was to demonstrate how this decision support tool can be used by a range of stakeholders.”

    To Learn More:

    Click on 2004 decision by Agricultural Land Commission was conditional upon use of Water Balance Model to download the January 2004 news release.

    Click on Thinking Outside the Pipe in the Comox Valley to read a newspaper report about the training workshop co-hosted by the City of Courtenay and the Millard/Piercy Watershed Stewards.