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Success Stories: Rainwater Champions & Innovators

VIDEO: “Maximum Extent Practicable, or MEP, has become the definitional driver for a lot of what we do,” said Andy Reese, engineer and writer who coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006 to explain the pitfalls inherent in urban drainage practice


“Years ago I was privileged to travel around the US with EPA putting on seminars,” stated Andy Reese in 2011. “Three off-the-cuff words have probably have had the biggest impact in influencing land design of any sort of regulatory program that ever was, and perhaps that ever will be. Those three words were maximum, extent and practicable. Back then, none of those words were capitalized. They were just a made-up term. But MEP is now taking on green infrastructure overtones, sustainability overtones, LID overtones, and on and on.”

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An Interview with Peter Law (November 2017): “Our goal is to educate people in the watershed surrounding Shelly Creek. We will be conducting ‘kitchen table talks’ to educate people on the effects of excess water running through the stream.”


The Shelly Creek experience foreshadows that an informed stream stewardship sector may prove to be a difference-maker that accelerates implementation of the ‘whole-system, water balance’ approach in British Columbia. “We’ve got some issues around trying to slow the water down. As lands get developed, we ditch and we drain everything and that moves water into the channel faster and pushes it into this place. As a site is developed or cleared, you’re actually looking at how you can slow the water down from that site, not drain it,” stated Peter Law.

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Green Infrastructure is a Resiliency Investment that Pays Dividends: “New York City can serve as a model for American coastal cities looking for ways to mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Carter Strickland, New York state director of The Trust for Public Land


With 520 miles of coastline, there are more residents living in high-risk flood zones in New York City than any other city in the United States. “As New York comes to grip with this new reality, the city, civic institutions, and community groups are building parks and playgrounds that incorporate plants, permeable pavement, greenroofs, green roofs, trees, bioswales, and rainwater catchment systems and other ‘green infrastructure’. This is important because cities are hotter than surrounding areas, and their residents are more vulnerable to heat waves, one of the greatest public health threats from climate change,” wrote Carter Strickland.

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VIDEO: Seattle Strategy for Green Stormwater Infrastructure – “GSI is an approach for mimicking the way intact forest ecosystems manage rainfall, to prevent stormwater pollution and make our neighborhoods greener and more livable at the same time,” stated Tracy Hackett


“Before our roads and houses were here, the native evergreen forests and that covered our Pacific Northwest landscape slowed and cleansed rainwater and helped it soak into the soil to recharge groundwater and replenish our creeks and rivers. Over the past 150 years, we have lost a great deal of this ecological function. We know now that the polluted runoff from impervious surfaces in urban areas is the number one threat to water quality in Puget Sound, that it’s toxic to salmon and other wildlife, and causes other problems like sewer overflows and flooding,” stated Tracy Hackett.

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“Washoe County, Nevada is one of the most rapidly urbanizing areas in the country. Why are cumulative impacts of development ignored?” asks engineer Kris Hemlein


“Cumulative environmental impacts can be defined as effects on the environment which are caused by the combined results of past, current and future activities,” wrote Kris Hemlein. “Human activities, with time, combine to collectively impact the environment. These effects may differ from the original, individual activities. For example, ecosystems can be damaged by the combined effects of human activities, such as air, land and/or water pollution; improper handling of industrial waste; and other human development activities. Do our county planners, planning commissioners and commissioners adequately consider cumulative impacts of urbanization on our existing residents?”

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Center for Infrastructure Modeling and Management: “The new Center has been set up as a sustainable undertaking. It is the combination of diverse needs, ideas and solutions that will make this vision for the Center work,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney, Director of Operations


“We’re so pleased with the agreement reached with the British Columbia Partnership for Water Sustainability. We have many needs in common, and many ideas to share. The leadership shown by the Partnership has led to a body of knowledge from which others can learn,” stated Charles Rowney. “British Columbia experience in whole-system, water balance based approaches in the Pacific Northwest adds a critical combination of tools and understanding to the water resources toolbox.”

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VIDEO: Langley Township has engineered several thriving ecosystems for its 1600 kilometres of watercourses


A culvert upgrade was needed where Yorkson Creek passes under 86 Avenue but instead of the usual round shape, the replacement in 2016 was square. “The previous narrow culvert caused water to rush through and made it difficult for fish to swim through.  The new culvert has angled baffles on the bottom side which creates a meandering watercourse,” explained Justin St. Andrassy. “We installed pool and ripple sequences,  habitat features, large woody debris, and we planted the entire restoration zone with native plantings over several years.”

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VIDEO: West Vancouver’s McDonald Creek Gets a Fish-Friendly Makeover Thanks to Volunteer Effort and City Support


A new rocky berm has given a West Vancouver creek a better connection to high tide ocean water and salmon are expected to benefit. “The district’s role was to coordinate the project. The Streamkeepers did all the hard work to fundraise and organize funding for the project. We hired the trades folks, the coordinator and marine biologist to do the design work, and the coastal engineer, and got the trucks organized,” stated John Barker. “This is a perfect example of stewardship groups coming together and working in collaboration with the district.”

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Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre – a new jewel in the crown of Metro Vancouver’s regional parks system


“The addition of the Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre will offer education and grassroots engagement on the critical importance of watershed stewardship and environmental sustainability,” said Heather Deal, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks Committee, at the official opening. “We are thrilled to officially open this Centre in Maple Ridge for the enjoyment of all Metro Vancouver residents and visitors.”

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PHILADELPHIA’S BOLD PLAN: Green City, Clean Waters – an inter-generational commitment to “optimize and engineer the landscape” to mimic and restore its natural hydrologic regime!


Philadelphia hopes by the mid-2030s to create the largest green stormwater infrastructure in the United States. Nancy Stoner says the program was never solely about slashing combined sewer overflow, but also about providing larger environmental and social benefits. “Philadelphia wanted to do much more,” Stoner says. “They did a benefits analysis before they began that showed it would enhance air quality and climate resiliency. It takes the problem of stormwater and turns it into an amenity.”

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