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Look At Rainfall Differently

Voodoo Hydrology Annual Webinar Series (December 2017): Andy Reese explains the pitfalls of urban hydrology methods


Andy Reese coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006. “As a stormwater community, we have for years relied upon common urban stormwater hydrologic design methodologies and trusted their results. But, should we? We must understand that urban hydrology, including newer Green Infrastructure sizing approaches, as commonly practiced, is an inexact science where we are simply trying to get close to the right answer,” states Andy Reese.

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IMPLEMENTATION OF WHOLE-SYSTEM, WATER BALANCE APPROACH: “The challenge is to move from stop-gap remediation of in-stream problems to long-term restoration of a properly functioning watershed,” stated Peter Law, Vice-President of the Mid Vancouver Habitat Enhancement Society


“By sharing the story of Shelly Creek, we want readers to recognize that erosion is a common issue impacting salmon and trout habitats in small streams, draining into the Salish Sea,” states Peter Law. “Existing standards of practice have resulted in negative impacts. Continuing to use those standards will result in further environmental degradation of the watershed and loss of stream productivity. Building support for action starts with community engagement.”

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BLUEPRINT COLUMBUS – Clean Streams, Strong Neighborhoods: "One of the most exciting aspects to Blueprint is its creativity. Blueprint attacks the root problem by addressing the rain water that is entering the sewer system," stated Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman


“The City was concerned that building 28 miles of tunnels to eliminate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) was of questionable value, because SSOs are such a small volume of overflows compared to Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). The proposed tunnels would cost approximately $2 billion and only be used 4 or 5 times a year,” stated Mayor Michael Coleman. “Blueprint Columbus will be significantly better for the environment.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: "A key challenge has been translating global climate science to local land-use decisions. The new Climate Change Module in the Water Balance Model helps overcome this obstacle,” stated Chris Jensen, Senior Policy Analyst, Government of British Columbia


“If mitigation is about CARBON, then adaptation is about WATER. Hence, being able to quickly and effectively model how the ‘water balance’ may change over time is a critical input to local government decision processes,” stated Chris Jensen. ” We heard from communities that they desired an easy to use tool, one that would help them understand and identify evaluate options for climate adaptation. This need served as a catalyst for development of the Climate Change Module.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: “Our goal in constantly improving the Water Balance Model is to serve an ever widening range of user sophistication and problem-solving capabilities," stated Ted van der Gulik when he announced the plan for implementing a $500,000 program over 3 years


“Among the many enhancements that will be implemented over the next three years are capabilities not currently available in commercial software,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “The rapid growth and success of the present second generation model has made it clear that the time has come for the next bold leap forward in the evolution of our web-based tool.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “We are using the slogan 'The New Business As Usual' to convey the message that practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm," stated Dale Wall, Deputy Minister, when he announced that Vancouver Island would be the demonstration region for green infrastructure capacity building


“Vancouver Island is the pilot for the Learning Lunch Seminar Series, a continuing education program for local government practitioners. This program will build capacity to apply ‘the new Water Balance Model’, and it will help make the transition to The New Business As Usual,” announced Dale Wall. “The Cowichan Valley Regional District and the City of Courtenay are the host local governments for series in the Spring and Fall, respectively.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2006: Cochrane Innovations in Urban Development Conference introduced Alberta audience to the Water Balance Model


The conference resulted from concerns about protecting escarpments, riparian areas, groundwater supplies and the Bow River watersheds during development. According to Bert van Duin, the pre-conference workshop provided an opportunity for the British Columbia team to inform Albertans about the benefits of the water balance way-of-thinking. “We received excellent feed-back on the format and contents of the conference, in general, and the workshop in particular,” he said.

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LOOK AT RAINFALL DIFFERENTLY: "Best practice falls dramatic short of effective waterway protection," stated Rod Wiese, a champion for 'doing business differently' in Australia, at the 2016 Stormwater Australia National Conference


“This study explores the genuine desire to protect and enhance urban waterways through whole of water cycle measures having wide ranging benefits to community health and climate change resilience,” wrote Rod Wiese in a conference paper titled Why Best Practice is Destroying Our Waterways. “Clearly, we need to manage volume and restore water balance pathways as Kim Stephens explained in his keynote at Stormwater 2016 about the primacy of hydrology.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2006: At the Water in the City Conference, Tom Liptan explained why City of Portland coined the RAIN acronym as an alternative to 'Stormwater' Management'


“It is great to see that the Province of British Columbia is proactively encouraging the drainage community to start using the all-encompassing Rainwater Management as an alternative to single-objective Stormwater Management,” stated Tom Liptan. “The language-shift that you have initiated in British Columbia is what we would like to see happen in Portland.”

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WHAT HAPPENS ON THE LAND MATTERS: “The benefits of source control cannot be understated,” stated John Argue, pioneer and champion for Water Sensitive Urban Design in Australia


“The genesis of this approach lies at the point where rainfall strikes an urban environment surface, where it can be captured via rooftop gardens and water tanks under a notion of retaining water as opposed to having it wash away,” says John Argue. “Water which is not captured by these practices can potentially be infiltrated into the soil or be channelled through vegetated bio retention systems or rainwater gardens.”

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