Re-Inventing Rainwater Management in the Capital Region: Call for action to implement fundamental changes
From Stormwater to Rainwater: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Nature
In February 2010, the Environmental Law Clinic (ECL) at the University of Victoria released a report titled Re-inventing Rainwater Management: A strategy to protect health and restore nature in the Capital Region. On July 28, the ELC team had the opportunity to present their findings at a meeting of regional politicians.
Call to Action
Speaking on behalf of the ELC team, Paddy O’Reilly stressed the need to clean the region’s beaches and work with natural water cycles; and asked the Capital Regional District (CRD) to implement fundamental changes in how the region deals with rainwater and stormwater runoff.
By turning landscape into hardscape with impervious roads, sidewalks, parking lots and roofs, Paddy noted, we have forced water that would naturally seep into the earth to instead sweep across pavement, picking up pollution and speed as it charges through pipes and shoots into our streams.
“Washington State scientists have found that the bulk of toxins going into Puget Sound are from storwmater – 100,000 lbs of toxins a day,” Paddy quoted from the ELC’s report. “Every 24 months, stormwater delivers a volume of oil equal to the Exxon Valdez spill into the Sound.”
Drawing from the ELC report, Paddy brought forward a series of recommendations to the Joint Meeting hosted by the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee with the Environmental Sustainability Committee.
Noting positive local examples, such as Trent Street rain gardens and the Bowker Creek Initiative, Paddy called on the committee to go farther with a comprehensive approach to rainwater management in the CRD. She urged the committee to unite the CRD’s 13 municipalities under an overarching Storm Sewer Bylaw, develop policies and law reform that supports low impact development (LID) and fix old infrastructure.
Response from Elected Representatives
Many of the councillors thanked the ELC for the presentation and called for the committee to come together to deal with rainwater and stormwater issues. Councillor Vic Derman noted, “There has to be a paradigm shift in how we deal with stormwater management, which is causing huge environmental damage, arguably more than sewage.”
Councillor Judy Brownoff commented, “We appreciate UVic as a resource, their ability to teach, research and produce amazing reports.”
Integrated Watershed Management
Following the ELC presentation, CRD staff presented an Integrated Watershed Management Progress Report. This called for a more holistic approach to watershed management.
“Issues of watershed and receiving environment protection are regional by definition. The plan represents what could be done to protect and enhance the region’s watersheds and receiving environment,” stated Glenn Harris, CRD Senior Manager for Environmental Protection, in his report to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan.
“As a first step towards a regional service, staff propose that the core area stormwater quality program be refocused to an IWM program. This change would involve re-allocating resources to incorporate components of the plan but also maintaining the existing key functions of the program at an appropriate level to support municipal efforts to locate and repair sources of stormwater contamination.”
The committee asked CRD staff to present an implementation strategy for an Integrated Watershed Management program for the core area of the CRD in Fall 2010.
To download a copy of the Progress Report, click here.
To Learn More about Re-Inventing Rainwater Management
Click on the links below to access stories previously published on the Water Bucket website:
Vancouver Island Success Stories: Re-Inventing Rainwater Management in British Columbia: Rainwater runoff the key to a green city
Vancouver Island Success Stories: Re-Inventing Rainwater Management in the Capital Region: The pollution problem we can’t save for a rainy day
Posted July 2010