Rainwater Management in Central Saanich: Surface Water Management Bylaw requires rainwater runoff capture to reduce the 'hydrologic footprint'
Integrated Stormwater Management Plan establishes Vancouver Island precedent
The District of Central Saanich is located due north of the City of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula. The District is a Water Balance Model Partner and is the first Vancouver Island municipality to create an ISMP (Integrated Stormwater Management Plan in accordance with the methodology laid out in Chapter 9 of the Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.
Sustainable Rainwater Management
“The District updated its Official Community Plan about two years ago. This provided policy direction for developing a District-wide ISMP,” states Nirmal Bhattacharya, P.Eng., MCIP, Municipal Engineer.
“From the beginning, the ISMP project was guided by a stakeholders committee that included government agencies, area farmers, local interest groups, residents and District staff. This committee was very important, in part because of the variety of perspectives it represented; but more importantly because it achieved consensus on a vision that is good for the community.”
“One reason why the stakeholders committee was effective was because of the learning that took place when the committee members went on creek walkabouts. We called these Creeks & Communities Workshops. Just like the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series, they would start with a familiarization session followed by the site visit.”
“The District took all feedback and concerns into consideration and collaboratively we developed an holistic and sustainable rainwater management plan that will be implemented over the next five to 20 years. In fact, within the first 5 years we expect to resolve 90% of the drainage problems identified by the ISMP,” continues Roland Rocheleau, ISMP Project Manager.
“The ISMP initiative is important because implementation of the recommendations will preserve the local ecosystem while allowing for new development within the District of Central Saanich. In this regard, Council is being proactive and implementation is already proceeding. A critically important initiative is the Healthy Watershed Committee. This community-based and volunteer group will commence its work this Fall.”
Design with Nature
“Because Central Saanich is a Water Balance Model partner, it has embraced the vision of the Inter-Governmental Partnership to advance a ‘design with nature’ approach to land development. This is reflected in our Surface Water Management Bylaw,” reports Roland Rocheleau. To download a copy, click here.
Surface Water Management Bylaw
In February 2010, Central Saanich Council adopted the Surface Water Management Bylaw to require rainwater runoff capture. It encourages use of the Water Balance Model at the individual property scale.
“The Bylaw was an outcome of the ISMP,” states Nirmal Bhattacharya. “There was already a clause in our engineering specifications that requires ‘no net increase in runoff’ after a site is developed. But it was redevelopment of a site with a large paved area that led us to re-think our approach. We said let’s try to do something. This led us to create the Bylaw which now gives us the means to restore the water balance when properties redevelop.”
Capture Rain Where It Falls
The preamble in the Bylaw includes this statement of intent: “Council considers that surface water run-off and storm water from impervious surfaces should, to the greatest extent possible, be returned to the soil on the land from which it
originates or on which it falls.”
“The District is promoting the use of innovative design approaches to restore the dispersal of rainwater runoff flows to near pre-development levels. Clauses 6 and 7 in the Bylaw are key clauses. The two deal with single family properties and bigger developments, respectively,” continues Roland Rocheleau.
“When we were developing the Bylaw, the Planning and Building departments provided input. As a result, everyone understands what we want to accomplish. Rainfall capture is a building permit requirement.” Clause 6 states:
- “In the case of construction of a single-family or two-family dwelling, where the total area of roof areas and impermeable surfaces is less than 400 square metres, the Owner must install and maintain in perpetuity on-site works providing at least the minimum volume of water storage.”
“We are already seeing how people are viewing their properties differently now that we can point them to the Water Balance Model. Their use of the tool is raising their awareness of how they can achieve rainfall capture; and they are learning how to use soil and landscaping as an alternative to storage tanks,” concludes Roland Rocheleau.
A Message from the Mayor
“As the Mayor and a farmer in Central Saanich I am very proud of Council’s commitment to implement the recommendations of the ISMP and the foresight in the adoption of the District’s Surface Water Management Bylaw. The entire community will benefit from the investments we make to ensure rainwater runoff is treated as a valuable resource,” concludes Mayor Jack Mar.
To Learn More:
The Central Saanich ISMP encompasses three major drainage catchment areas within the District: Hagan Creek, Sandhill Creek and McHugh Creek. The total land area in the three watersheds is ~3,200 hectares and compares with a total area of over 5,000 hectares within the municipal boundaries. To download the ISMP Final Report, click here.
Posted May 2010