Quebec hosts fourth in the “Across Canada Workshop Series” on Resilient Rainwater Management (Oct 31)
Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC will visit Montreal on October 31, 2014
Reséau Environnement (i.e. “environment network”) is the largest group of environmental specialists in Quebec and represents over 2,700 members from all backgrounds. Active for over 50 years, its mission is to promote good practice and innovation in the environment.
Reséau Environnement is a non-profit organization that resulted from the merger of two associations. It has eight regional committees located around the Province of Quebec. It also has technical committees, one of which is the Water Committee, chaired by Gilles Rivard.
The Water Committee of Reséau Environnement is partnering with the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC to host the fourth in the five-city Resilient Rainwater Management: Across Canada Workshop Series on Adapting to a Changing Climate.”
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For registration information, visit http://www.reseau-environnement.com/fr/evenements/atelier-pancanadien-sur-la-gestion-des-eaux-pluviales-en-c-b
Quebec’s Stormwater Goal: Reproduce the Natural Condition
In 2011, the Province of Quebec released a Rainwater Management Guide that is enforced by the Ministry of Environment. The Guide identifies strategies for land use planning, principles for design and optimal management practices for urban drainage systems. The technical foundation for this regulatory document has been influenced to some extent by British Columbia experience in pioneering a water balance approach.
Gilles Rivard, a leading Quebec practitioner, is the editor and principal author of the Guide. Also, he is the Chair of the Reséau Environnement committee that is responsible for overseeing updates and changes to the Guide. Gilles Rivard is the author of the textbook titled “Stormwater Management in Urban Areas: Concepts and Applications” published in 1998, with a second edition in 2005. This is the ‘go-to’ textbook for Quebec practitioners, in part because it is the only French-language book of its kind.
How Water Moves Through Soil
“In Quebec, guidelines are requirements. Similar to British Columbia practice, the goal of Quebec’s Rainwater Management Guide is to manage all rainfall events, large and small. The design objective is to ‘reproduce the natural condition’. This is equivalent to the approach in BC which is expressed as ‘mimic the natural water balance’. Like BC, we recognize the need to reduce runoff volume by infiltrating rainwater where it falls,” explains Gilles Rivard.
“The drivers for reducing runoff volume are water quality, flooding and erosion.”
“Quebec City is the only municipality to require rain gardens to achieve rainwater runoff. Everywhere else in the province, my observation is that designers find excuses not to infiltrate rainwater. This means they are bypassing the soil. I believe this reflects their lack of understanding of how water moves through soil.”
“In hosting a workshop in the Across Canada Series, we are interested to learn from BC case study experience about infiltrating rainwater into the soil. From our viewpoint, it is relevant that BC has a history as pioneers in implementing a volume-reduction approach to rainwater management,” concludes Gilles Rivard.
Share & Learn in a Workshop Setting
“In tailoring the program for the Montreal workshop to the information needs of our Quebec audience, one of our educational objectives will be to show how the Quebec Guidelines reflect proven practice. To address the reluctance to install infiltration systems, we will place emphasis on how water moves through soil,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director and leader of the BC team that is delivering the Across Canada Workshop Series.
Mimic the Natural Water Balance
In February 2014, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC released a guidance document titled: Primer on Water Balance Methodology for Protecting Watershed Health.
“Defining how much water can be retained, infiltrated, and detained on a lot is a completely different way of looking at the drainage problem and solutions,” explains Jim Dumont, the Partnership’s Engineering Applications Authority. Surface runoff is a small component of natural watershed function. The key to replicating watershed function and mitigating impacts is understanding ALL flow paths through the landscape. Then, Watershed-based Targets can be distilled into a set of design values that are easily applied at a lot level.”
“Examination of the shallow surficial soils is critical to an understanding of the hydrology of an area. Understanding the nature of the shallow soils allows us to view how they interact with rainwater and determine how they alter the flow path to the stream.”
“The shallow surface soils form the interflow media and directly interact with any rainfall. The physical properties of these shallow soils determine hydrologic response of the watersheds, specifically: how the rainfall interacts with the landscape; where the rainwater goes; and how the rainwater gets there,” emphasizes Jim Dumont in summarizing how water moves through soil.
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