Bigger Pipes or Greener Communities: A Hydrological Assessment of using Low Impact Development to Mitigate Future Flooding



Note to Readers:

In October 2010, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and the BC Water and Waste Association are co-hosting a 2-day workshop titled ‘From Rain to Resource: Stormwater Management in a Changing Climate‘. The purpose of Day 2 is to integrate the perspectives of the people working on the ground and those developing and adopting policy.

Chris Jensen, an Infrastructure Resource Officer in the Engineering and Finance Division of the Ministry of Community & Rural Development will report out on the results of the research that he is doing at the University of Victoria as part of his graduate studies.  


Jim mattison - climate change


Climate Change Adaptation is About Water

“The IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) predicts that climate change will bring more extreme precipitation to many regions across the globe. This increase significantly raises the risk of rain-generated floods and infrastructure failure,” states ChriChris jensen (120p) - feb 2010s Jensen.

“In order to maintain current levels of service, drainage infrastructure will need to be modified and upgraded. A key challenge is that for many communities, it will be prohibitively costly to rely on conventional engineered solutions.”

“Furthermore, using a hard infrastructure approach may not be desirable due to the negative impact it has on the health of aquatic ecosystems. Low Impact Development (LID) offers a potential alternative.”


Bowker Creek Case Study

The focus of Chris Jensen’s master’s research project is on evaluating whether LID can effectively mitigate the increase in flooding that is predicted to occur. The Bowker Creek Watershed, located in Victoria BC, is being used as a case study. The project is supported by the Water and Climate Impacts Research Centre and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICC). Both are located at the University of Victoria.

“Methods and results from the hydro-technical assessment will be discussed including generation of future storm scenarios, performance of LID techniques and optimizing the selection, distribution and sizing of LID source controls.”

“This research will help determine whether LID offers a viable solution for adapting to climate change, both within the unique case study area and potentially, in similar rainfall-dominated, urbanized watersheds,” concludes Chris Jensen.


Bowker Creek Blueprint Allows for Climate Change

“Climate change mitigation efforts such as tree planting can be concentrated along creek Jody watson (120p)corridors, while low impact development measures provide a no-regrets strategy to reduce peak flows during smaller storms,” adds Jody Watson, Chair of the Bowker Creek Initiative.

“Synergistic efforts also include riparian restoration and other meaures to provide ecosystems with the resilience required for climate change adaptation.”


To Learn More:

Click on Going with the flow: Mimicking Mother Nature may help us ward off floods Chris jensen (120p)caused by climate change — If climate change means more extreme rainfall, as scientists predict, how should we prepare to cope with all the extra water? Should we be installing larger storm water pipes? Diverting streams? Stockpiling sandbags?

Click on Bowker Creek Blueprint brings new meaning in British Columbia to the Ian McHarg vision for “designing with nature”The Blueprint is a 100-year action plan to make the watershed restoration vision real

Robert hicks (120p)Click on Stormwater Management, Low Impact Development, Sustainable Drainage, Green Infrastructure, RAINwater Management…. what is an appropriate term to use? — “For more than a decade, the language used by drainage practitioners around the world has been changing to reflect the evolving objectives in doing business differently,” observes Robert Hicks, Senior Engineer with Metro Vancouver.  



Next Generation Infrastructure Systems for Eco-Cities

“It looks promising that I will be presenting our Bowker Creek case study findings in Shenzhen, China in November at the 3rd Annual International Conference on Next Generation Infrastructure Systems for Eco-Cities,” reports Chris Jensen.

“The organizers accepted a paper that I co-authored. It was quite the competition to be accepted, but that in itself helps to show that China is interested in what’s happening in BC.”


Eco-City Defined

“The conference organizers define an ‘eco-city’ as a city that is designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimization of required inputs of energy, water and food, and waste output of heat, air pollution – CO2, methane and water pollution.”

“This means a sustainable city can feed itself with minimal reliance on the surrounding countryside, and power itself with renewable sources of energy. The crux of this is to create the smallest possible ecological footprint, and to produce the lowest quantity of pollution possible, to efficiently use land; compost used materials, recycle it or convert waste-to-energy. If this is achieved, then an eco-city’s overall contribution to climate change will be minimal.”


Connect the Dots: Climate Change Module will enhance Water Balance Model

Chris Jensen represents the Ministry of Community & Rural Development on the Inter-Governmental Partnership steering committee that is responsible for the Water Balance Model for British Columbia. Chris is also Co-Chair of the Vancouver Island Coordinating Team.

Released in November 2009, Water Balance Model for Canada – The Plan for the Future is a comprehensive document that will guide tool enhancement over the next three years. Four new modules are under development, including the Climate Change Module.

Chris Jensen is playing a lead role vis-à-vis the Climate Change Module. He is the interface between the Inter-Governmental Partnership and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. The module is expected to be functional by mid-2011.


WBM screen shot

Posted October 2010