Re-Inventing Rainwater Management: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Nature in the Capital Region




The pollution problem we can’t save for a rainy day, according to new study 

Released in February 2010 by the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Victoria, the study titled Re-Inventing Rainwater Management: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Nature in the Capital Region documents how ‘green’ rainwater management has now Re-Inventing rainwater management - cover (180p)been adopted by engineers, developers, planners and governments across North America.

“The title says it all…It’s an impressive piece of work, which lays out a blueprint for achieving dramatic change in the way rainwater runoff is managed,” writes Mark Hume in an article published by the Globe and Mail.

To read the complete newspaper article, click on The pollution problem we can’t save for a rainy day.


Law and Policy Aspects

The report recommends implementation and enforcement of the CRD Model Storm Sewer and Watercourse Protection Bylaw across the entire Capital Region, a model which has yet to be fully adopted by most municipalities.

The Model Bylaw provides member municipalities with the regulatory powers to prohibit certain types of wastes from being discharged into storm sewers and watercourses to protect the environment, public health, municipal infrastructure, watercourses and the nearshore marine environment.

The report also recommends formation of a Capital Regional District Rainwater Commission to undertake an integrated watershed management approach for managing rainwater across the region.


Why a Rainwater Commission

“A Regional Commission is necessary to overcome the main barrier to rational rainwater management: the fragmented jurisdiction over runoff in our region,” the report states.

The report envisions that the new Commission would create a long-term Regional Integrated Watershed Management Plan with a number of mandatory targets, including:

  • the enactment of source pollution control regulations throughout the region;
  • the elimination of stormwater discharges rated ‘high’ for environmental concern or public health concern by 2015;
  • the reduction of Victoria Harbour and Gorge runoff pollution with the goal of making fish and shellfish there edible by 2035; and
  • a firm deadline of 25 years for repairing pipes and infrastructure that allow sewage releases from storm sewers.”

The reports says funding should be provided through a new utility charge to homeowners.


A Call to Action

“In sum, it is time for the Capital Regional District—in partnership with other governments and the private sector—to implement a region-wide rainwater management strategy. The rewards will be great,” the report states.

“If we act now, our grandchildren will benefit dramatically. They’ll be able to walk on beaches free of stormwater fecal contamination. From those clean beaches they’ll be able to spot the occasional orca still wild in the Straits. They will walk along the banks of local urban streams awed by the magic of restored salmon runs. They will harvest shellfish from long-closed shellfish beds. They will hike in remote watersheds that might otherwise have been dammed.”


About Re-Inventing Rainwater Management

“Traditional stormwater management broke the natural water cycle,” states Calvin Sandborn, Legal Director of the Environmental Law Clinic. “In contrast, modern rainwater management looks at the dynamics of the entire watershed and identifies how development can use ‘green infrastructure’ to maintain natural systems and protect buildings.”

“Stormwater management is the term traditionally used to describe managing rainfall runoff with conventional ‘storm-based’ drainage facilities. Viewing runoff as a problem, it emphasizes engineered ‘cement and pipes’ as the solution.”

“Modern science and engineering have evolved new ways to address rainfall events in a way that reflects natural water systems. Rainwater management describes this more ecological and holistic approach.”

To download a copy of the report and learn much more, click on Re-Inventing Rainwater Management: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Nature in the Capital Region.


To Learn More:

Click on the links below to access stories previously published on the Water Bucket website:



About the Environmental Law Clinic

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Posted March 2010