Rainwater Management on Vancouver Island: third in series of three regional events sponsored by EMCO
The EMCO Corporation has collaborated with the inter-governmental Water Balance Model Partnership to sponsor and organize three regional technical sessions on Rainwater Management in British Columbia. According to Keith Lumby of EMCO, “We are excited to demonstrate that industry is doing its part to rise to the challenge of providing practical solutions to on-the-ground drainage issues. Our collaboration with the Inter-Governmental Partnership is creating opportunities for the IGP to achieve their outreach objectives in communicating the water balance message to a broad audience of practitioners.”
Rainwater Management – The Series:
The first two rainwater management events were held in Kelowna and Kamloops in late 2005. The third in the series was an evening session in Victoria in June 2006. The event attracted 55 people from the Greater Victoria region. Total attendance for the three events was approximately 160.
The format for these evening events consisted of display booths as well as informative presentations on current provincial Guidelines and initiatives, plus on-the-ground measures to achieve rainwater management objectives.
According to Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership that has been responsible for development of the Water Balance Model, “The IGP values the relationship that has been evolving with EMCO. We are pleased that we can contribute to the success of technical sessions organized by an industry leader. The success of these sessions helps us spread the word about practical tools that government is developing to meet the needs of practitioners on the ground.”
Featured presentations were by Rick Lloyd and Kim Stephens, two experienced British Columbia practitioners. Lloyd provided a practical approach to infrastructure developmetn and new technologies. Stephens provided a Convening for Action context to illustrate why and how the Water Balance Model for British Columbia is at the heart of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.
Rick Lloyd was formerly the Deputy-Engineer for the District of Saanich, and is now an independent consultant. Kim Stephens was formerly a Vice-President with CH2M Hill, and is now Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan. Lloyd and Stephens have 40-plus and 33 years experience, respectively. They were contemporaries at the University of British Columbia. This connection resulted in an entertaining dimension to their two presentations.
In addition to the keynote presentations, Keith Lumby made a presentation on case study applications of the Atlantis product. In the photo below are Rick Lloyd (left), Kim Stephens (centre) and Keith Lumby (right)
Rainwater Management – Treatment/Detention Options
Rick Lloyd made a rousing presentation that demonstrated that engineers can also be very, very passionate about the environment and what we are doing to it in the name of engineering standards. Drawing on his decades of experience as a municipal engineer, he illustrated on-the-ground impacts of a ‘business as usual’ approach to land development, and emphasized that the impacts on infrastructure capacity and receiving waters will be exacerbated by climate change. He challenged the crowd to ‘think outside the pipe’ and issued a call to action to engineers to design with nature rather than trying to conquer it.
“I strongly believe that the engineering profession needs to play a leadership role in changing the way we develop land in the Greater Victoria region. After all, we are the ones who create the standards that determine how roads and subdivisions are built. It is our responsibility to ensure that site designs really matter. We can do that by being innovative with our building designs, and by implementing truly integrated rainwater management. We simply cannot continue on our present path. So we must make the city multi-modal. We must enhance the green space. We must reduce overall runoff, and we must replenish the groundwater. We can do it if there is the will to do it”, said Lloyd.
Poor Practice, Good Practice: One of the examples that Lloyd used to drive home his point about subdivision standards addressed the role that fire departments play in demanding wider roads, resulting in more pavement and more flooding and environmental impacts. “This was always a great source of frustration in my municipal career. Again and again, I would ask fire chiefs why is that you cannot back out of cul-de-sacs?”
Lloyd also provided examples of emerging ‘best practices’, especially those that emphasize landscaping solutions to increase shade, reduce water demand and generally make neighbourhoods more livable. “If we are to make places more livable”, noted Lloyd, “then we have to create pretty streets and walkways.”
To download Rick Lloyd’s presentation, click on Rainwater Management – Treatment / Detention Options Rick concluded his presentation with an educational theme.
Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: Rainwater Management and “Green” Subdivision Design
Kim Stephens built on the presentation by Rick Lloyd. He described how drought, forest fires and floods in 2003 created a teachable moment for change in British Columbia. This resulted in the Water Sustainability Action, a partnership umbrella for an array of on-the-ground initiatives that promote a ‘water-centric’ approach to community planning. In particular, change is being advanced through four partnerships:
- Water Balance Model Partnership
- Water Bucket Website Partnership
- Green Infrastructure Partnership
- Convening for Action
The Story of a Neighbourhood: To make the point that a ‘man versus nature’ approach to development creates risks to life and property, Stephens told the story about his neighbourhood. Applying the Water Balance Model, he developed a case study example to illustrate the dramatic impact on rainwater runoff volume when the forested land in his ‘back yard’ was clear-cut, stripped of all soil down to bedrock, and then blasted to excavate the foundation for a 7600 square foot house.
Stephens explained that the Convening for Action initiative is ‘building capacity’ through a 3-step process that is at the core of this provincial initiative. “First, we challenge practitioners and others to step back from existing ways-of-thinking. That is what Rick has done brilliantly with his presentation.He got your attention and he challenged you to do things differently,” he stated, “Secondly, we inform our audiences about alternatives. Again, that is what Rick has done so well with his examples of a better way of developing land.”
“Thirdly, we provide the tools and the experience to develop land and use water differently. That is the focus of my presentation. That is why I am telling the story of what has taken place in my backyard to illustrate how a tool lke the Water Balance Model provides the visuals to demonstrate to the neighbourhood as a whole, and to elected officials in particular because they make the decisions that count, what happens when you dramatically change the land form without proper consideration for the resulting off-site impacts”, concluded Stephens.
To underscore his point, he showed the following output from the Water Balance Model application for the property that is his ‘back yard’ in West Vancouver
The Future is the Past: In order to show how land development practices have changed over time, Stephens also presented the results of a North Vancouver case study that compared the runoff volume for a 1950s ‘design with nature’ form of development versus the hard surfaces form of development in the 2000s. This comparison provided the context for showing that runoff volumes can be reduced effective use of soil and vegetation to return rainwater to natural hydrologic pathways. This comparison is illustrated below:
To download the presentation by Kim Stephens, click on Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: Rainwater Management & “Green” Subdivision Design
Benefits of the Rain Water Tank
Keith Lumby provided case study examples to illustrate why rain water tanks are an innovatiive and cost-effective solution to rainwater management issues. Benefits include opening up more land for other purposes. From an engineering perspective, a major consideration is that the 95% void space compares with 30% for a rock pit or 50% for an exfiltration pipe installed in drain rock.To download Keith Lumby’s presentation, click on Rainwater Management: Benefits of the Rain Water Tank
Posted June 2006