DESIGN WITH NATURE TO PREVENT STORMWATER FLOODING: “We are playing catchup – why is application of the science lagging far behind long established knowledge,” is the question posed by Rick Baumann in South Carolina guest column

"I read a recent article entitled Stormwater Flooding An Expensive Problem, Hot Issue. Well, it has been an 'expensive' and 'hot' issue for about a hundred years – and our leaders have mostly chosen to ignore that, " wrote Rick Baumann in a guest newspaper column. "We are playing catchup. The result of this brilliant mindset: we end up paying far more to fix a problem further down the road when the absolute need to address it leaves no other option."

VIDEO – Slow the Flow: Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge

"When much of California is facing drought and limited water supplies, capturing and reusing every drop of water will not only be clever, but crucial. By moving water away from the people and places that need it, stormwater cannot percolate into the ground and replenish water we keep drilling deeper and deeper to reach. Californians can counteract the negative impacts of stormwater runoff by promoting water infiltration," wrote Paula Luu.

IMAGINE: Once we know what we want our watersheds and neighbourhoods to look like, the next step is to decide what the tools are that will get us there

The Green Infrastructure Guide is an invaluable reference document for those who embrace a ‘design with nature’ philosophy. “All of us have an impact on the land, on the water, and on the way things look. Each party in the process has a responsibility. There are solutions to be found if all parties in the development process simply talk to each other about how they could all work together more effectively, using law reform or other process changes as tools," wrote Susan Rutherford.

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE LAND DOES MATTER: To Protect Agricultural Lowlands, Restore Watershed Hydrology in the Uplands

In British Columbia, agricultural development is often situated in the lowlands, with urban development mostly in the uplands. “Without compliance with the drainage standards, the viability of agriculture and local food supply is potentially at risk. The criteria are essential in protecting crops (food on the table) from damage caused by excessive durations of flooding and saturation of roots. If crops are at risk, then so is the sustainability of a region,” stated Jim Dumont.

FLASHBACK TO 2006: West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones teamed with Green Infrastructure Partnership to champion ‘Design with Nature’ approaches, overcome barriers and create a legacy in British Columbia


The goal is to turn local governments on to the practical reality that designing with nature holds out hope for communities and cities to function better, to our lasting benefit. "As the leaders appointed to design the Sustainable Region Initiative, we view you as critical partners in affecting positive change with regard to infrastructure design in the region," stated Mayor Goldsmith-Jones in December 2006 at a Metro Vancouver Sustainability Community Breakfast.

DESIGN WITH NATURE: Data Show that Increased Tree Canopy Boosts Property Values in Sydney, Australia

“To ensure the value of green infrastructure is recognised, our research found a connection between canopy coverage and the value of Australia’s favourite investment, the family home," stated Roger Swinbourne. “The irony here is that the very development that often leads to the removal of trees suffers in the long run as the ‘double whammy’ of direct sunlight and more surface water increases maintenance frequency and cost.”

DESIGN WITH NATURE: Forester University webinar looks at the water cycle with fresh eyes and showcases how to apply new approaches, methodologies and tools

“Collaboration with Forester University means the Partnership for Water Sustainability will have created an online teaching resource that will keep on giving,” stated Richard Boase. “As a teaching tool, the webcast is intended to help these professionals ask the right questions. We would like them to focus on how they and others can apply science-based understanding, properly and effectively, turn the clock back."

Pittsburgh’s Green & Clean Plan: “This is a COMPREHENSIVE approach to address the root of the problem and not just one of the problems,” stated Mayor Bill Peduto

"The draft City-Wide Green First Plan will guide where green infrastructure will be installed to achieve the most cost-effective and beneficial results to the residents of Pittsburgh," stated Mayor Bill Peduto. "The draft plan analyzed 13,700 acres in the City and proposes to manage runoff from 1,835 acres with green infrastructure over the next twenty years. “Going ‘Green First’ means improving the resiliency of our communities to disaster during extreme weather."

FLASHBACK TO 2008: At a meeting of the Urban Development Institute in Victoria, Kim Stephens reviewed the science-based breakthrough in understanding that led to development of the Water Balance Model (March 2008)

"Urban land use has been degrading the natural environment for more than 100 years. Sit on that for a while. 100 years, perhaps more. Holy smokes," wrote Marie Savage. "So what’s all this talk about developers and builders, the ultimate urban land users, protecting watersheds? It’s true. All it took was a twist and a twirl and the connection between runoff, sewers, and the resulting stress on natural systems came out of the pipework."