MED Spring 2011 Seminar draws attention to “Water Sustainability through Green Infrastructure”

Municipal Sustainability

In April 2011, the Municipal Engineers Division (MED) of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) held its Spring Seminar in Richmond.

“The seminar focus was on Municipal Sustainability. A total of six presentations covered a wide range of topics, from the City of Burnaby’s Food Scraps Program to Energy Conservation with Street Lighting. Our objective was to create a networking opportunity while at the same time providing information transfer. The seminar attracted an audience of close to 50 practitioners,” reports Susan Clift, a member of the MED Executive and seminar facilitator.

To download a copy of the program, click on MED Spring 2011 Seminar: “Municipal Sustainability”

Water Sustainability

Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, delivered the closing presentation. His theme was “water sustainability through green infrastructure”.

Susan Clift presents gift to Kim Stephens

“The MED seminar provided a timely platform to reach a local government audience with our key messages about the infrastructure liability challenge facing all local governments. In our outreach program, we are placing emphasis on connecting the dots between land use planning, development, watershed health AND asset management. In particular, we wanted to draw attention to the need for a course correction in the way Integrated Stormwater Management Plans are being developed in the Metro Vancouver region,” states Kim Stephens.

“Water sustainability literally flows from a community’s land ethic. If we treat the land with respect, the water resource will be protected. That is the essence of integration. We often hear experts talk about cumulative impacts when they explain degradation of water quality. Well, the flip side of a problem is an opportunity. Through implementation of green infrastructure policies and practices, we can achieve cumulative benefits over time, one property at a time.”

Green Infrastructure

“An absorbent topsoil layer has emerged as a fundamental building block for achieving water sustainability outcomes through implementation of green infrastructure practices,” continues Kim Stephens.

“Topsoil is the interface between rainwater management and drought management. Soil depth creates a sponge. This can limit runoff during wet-weather periods; and reduce water need during dry-weather periods.

Integrated Stormwater Management

In May 2010, the Metro Vancouver region adopted a comprehensive and holistic strategy for managing liquid discharges and rainwater resources. By 2014, for example, “municipalities will develop and implement integrated stormwater management plans (ISMPs) at the watershed scale that integrate with land use to manage rainwater runoff”.

At the 2011 Water Balance Model Partners Forum hosted by Metro Vancouver, we announced that we will be proceeeding with a professional development program that will help municipalities in Metro Vancouver and beyond implement the ISMP Course Correction. The experience and wisdom of local government champions who have developed precedent-setting watershed plans will provide the curriculum backbone for a 2-day course. A driver for the ‘course correction’ in the way ISMPs are developed is the unfunded infrastructure liability,” Kim Stephens told the MED audience.

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Kim Stephens, click on Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Water Sustainability through Green Infrastructure (15MB PDF).The presentation is organized in three parts:

  • first, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is introduced;
  • then the significance of Beyond the Guidebook 2010 is highlighted; and finally
  • in the main part of the presentation, the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative is explained, with emphasis on the ‘course correction’ for Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMPs) in the Metro Vancouver region.

To learn more about the “infrastructure liability”, click on Green Infrastructure: Achieve More With Less to access a recent article in Construction Business Magazine. Fiscal constraints provide a powerful impetus for doing business differently. Green infrastructure is part of a holistic approach to ‘achieve more with less.