Re-Inventing Rainwater Management in the Capital Region: University of Victoria report urges formation of Capital Regional District Rainwater Commission


Note to Readers:

Re-Inventing Rainwater Management: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Resources in the Capital Region documents how ‘green’ rainwater management has now been adopted by engineers, developers, planners and governments across North America.

The report also demonstrates that ‘Design with Nature’ approaches and Low Impact Development techniques are environmentally superior, and often are cheaper. In addition, they can provide incalculable benefits. To download a copy and learn much more, click here.

The report was produced by the Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) at the University of Victoria.

Call for Action

Released in February 2010, Re-Inventing Rainwater Management describes the environmental and stream health problems in the Capital Region that are the legacy of an obsolete 19th century stormwater management system—a system that fails to respect natural systems and water cycles.

Holly pattison (120p) - elc program administratorTo view a 10-minute YouTube video produced by Holly Pattison of the ELC team, click here. “In addition to interviewing several experts and community leaders with knowledge of rainwater and stormwater issues, the film introduces Re-Inventing Rainwater Management. The report offers a number of innovative solutions,” states Holly.

“The past provides a contrast with contemporary rainwater management practices that make the 21st century Green City possible—a city that designs rainwater management in concert with natural systems, not at cross purposes.”

Re-Inventing Rainwater Management recommends formation of a Capital Regional District Rainwater Commission to undertake an integrated watershed management approach for managing rainwater across the region. On July 28, the report was presented at a committee meeting of regional politicians.

Need for Rainwater Commission

“A Regional Commission is necessary to overcome the main barrier to rational rainwater management: the fragmented jurisdiction over runoff in our region. We envision that the new Commission would create a long-term Regional Integrated Watershed Management Plan with a number of mandatory targets,” states Calvin Sandborn, ELC Legal Director and lead author of Re-Inventing Rainwater Management.

Strategy for a 21st Century Green City

“This strategy shows how Greater Victoria can become a 21st century Green City.  If we implement this strategy, salmon can again flourish in our urban streams.  We can protect public health from stormwater sewage.  We can protect orca and local shellfish beds.  And we can expand urban green spaces and recreational opportunities.”

Calvin sandborn (240p) - photo from focus magazine“It’s not rocket science – practical green infrastructure techniques have already been proven by developers and engineers.  Often the green approaches are cheaper than conventional stormwater management – and they invariably offer superior environmental and social benefits.   For these reasons, Washington State is requiring green infrastructure techniques west of the Cascades.  And Philadelphia has launched an ambitious program to peel back the pavement and turn the entire city into a “green oasis”.

“It’s time for the Capital Region – and other BC communities — to build on the many local green infrastructure initiatives and implement such infrastructure across the landscape.  That’s why we issued this report.”

Vision for Regional Integrated Watershed Management Plan

Re-Inventing Rainwater Management envisions that the proposed Commission would have a mandate to create a long-term Regional Integrated Watershed Management Plan; and that there would be a number of mandatory targets, including:

  • the enactment of source pollution control regulations throughout the region;
  • the elimination of stormwater discharges rated ‘high’ for environmental concern or public health concern by 2015;
  • the reduction of Victoria Harbour and Gorge runoff pollution with the goal of making fish and shellfish there edible by 2035; and
  • a firm deadline of 25 years for repairing pipes and infrastructure that allow sewage releases from storm sewers.”

The reports suggests funding be provided through a new utility charge to homeowners.

Next Steps

Paddy oreilly  (120p)- environmental law clinic at uvicPaddy O’Reilly spoke on behalf of the ELC team in making the presentation to the politicians in July.  “Our recommendations set the stage for CRD staff to immediately follow with a progress report on Integrated Watershed Management.” To download a copy of the Progress Report, click here.

“The committee asked staff to report back with an implementation strategy for an Integrated Watershed Management program for the core area of the CRD in Fall 2010.”

To Learn More about Re-Inventing Rainwater Management

Click on the links below to access stories previously published on the Water Bucket website:

  1. Keep Rain On Site: YouTube Video: ‘Where it falls – Re-inventing rainwater management in British Columbia’s Capital Region’ (July 2010 – story about the ELC presentation to the CRD Joint Meeting hosted by the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee with the Environmental Sustainability Committee)
  2. Leading Change: Rainwater Revolution: Imagine rain as a resource instead of an urban inconvenience (April 2010 – story linked to feature article published in Monday Magazine)
  3. Vancouver Island Success Stories: Re-Inventing Rainwater Management in British Columbia: Rainwater runoff the key to a green city (March 2010 – story linked to an op-ed column published in the Victoria Times-Colonist)
  4. Vancouver Island Success Stories: Re-Inventing Rainwater Management in the Capital Region: The pollution problem we can’t save for a rainy day (March 2010 – story linked to an article published in the Globe & Mail)
  5. Law & Policy Tools: Re-Inventing Rainwater Management: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Nature in the Capital Region (March 2010 – story linked to an article published in the Globe & Mail)

Posted August 2010