“In the City of Surrey, an absorbent landscape that slows, sinks and spreads rainwater is becoming a requirement for new development,” states David Hislop, Upland Drainage Engineer
Note to Reader:
In December 2014 in Victoria, the Partnership for Water Sustainability and the Irrigation Industry Association co-hosted “Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: How Managing Water Now…..Will Shape the Future”. The workshop comprised four cascading modules. The article below is about Module B. The theme was water in the urban environment.
Water and the Urban Environment – Adapting to a Changing Climate
“The Managing Water Workshop was designed to spark a conversation and ultimately inform a shared vision for Vancouver Island. The workshop showcases tools and solutions that are designed to help communities move towards an equilibrium condition where settlement, economy and ecology are in balance,” reports Derek Richmond, Chair of CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island.
“The theme for Module B was adapting to a changing climate in the urban environment. To get to the big picture, start with the smallest pieces. Thus, a 3-person team elaborated on how tools and practices applied at the site scale enable local governments to protect and ultimately restore watershed health. Understanding how water flows through soil is the common thread for the three presentations.”
To Learn More About the Workshop:
To download a copy of the Program Overview for the workshop, click on Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: How Managing Water Now…..Will Shape the Future
To access the homepage for the workshop, click on 2014 Managing Water Workshop.
Role of Absorbent Landscape in Managing Rainwater
“Soil depth is a primary water management tool for use by local government to adapt to a changing climate. A well-designed landscape with healthy topsoil helps communities through both wet and dry times. Soil is a sponge. It holds and slowly releases rainwater. This can limit runoff during rainy weather; and reduce irrigation water need during dry weather,” states David Hislop, Upland Drainage Engineer with the City of Surrey.
“In the City of Surrey, an absorbent landscape that slows, sinks and spreads rainwater is becoming a requirement for new development. We specify a minimum soil depth of 300mm. The City’s implementation experience informed development of the Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit, funded by the Province and released in 2012. This is a guide for B.C. local governments who want to conserve water and protect the quality of stream habitat.”
To Learn More About the Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit:
Developed by an inter-regional partnership led by the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), the Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit gives local governments practical tools that support smart topsoil policies. The Toolkit presents basic principles of topsoil science and management. It also provides sample policy and bylaw language. For context, click on the links below:
Educating Homeowners & Improving Stream Health
“An increasing building footprint on properties is short-circuiting the WATER BALANCE. This creates risks for local government, both financial and environmental. If we want to make change, then we have to influence landowners to look at their properties differently,” says Richard Boase, Environmental Protection Officer with the District of North Vancouver, and Co-Chair of the Water Balance Model inter-governmental program.
“Addition of the web-based Water Balance Model Express for Landowners to the local government toolkit mean front counter staff can show landowners HOW to reduce their ‘water footprint’ through the use of soil and landscape features. The Express allows the user to integrate and balance three watershed-based performance targets established by a local government to ‘mimic the Water Balance’. The interface is no more complex than the dash board of a car.”
Summer Water Use – Irrigation Planning, Implementation and Scheduling
“A complete picture of the benefits of an absorbent landscape requires an understanding of summertime water use for irrigation, the need for good planning and some of the tools that can be used to help schedule irrigation properly,” adds David Pfortmueller.