INTEGRATING NATURAL ASSETS INTO INFRASTRUCTURE ON BC’S SUNSHINE COAST: “We wondered why are we clearing a forest to put in infrastructure to manage drainage runoff, when we know the forest can provide that service,” stated Michael Wall, Manager of Asset Management & Strategic Initiatives, qathet Regional District
NOTE TO READER:
The edition of Waterbucket eNews published on June 15, 2021 featured the qathet Regional District on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, in particular the leadership of Michael Wall, Manager of Asset Management and Strategic Services. He and his team stepped back, recognized an opportunity, and seized the moment to do business differently and integrate a “natural asset solution” into a landfill closure plan.
The landfill closure plan revolved around site drainage and control of runoff discharging to a salmon stream. The essence of the story is that the qathet Regional District rejected an engineered solution in favour of a natural asset solution. Doing business differently saved $700,000 which was 80% of the original capital budget. Plus, Michael Wall reports, “we saved about 1 hectare of beautiful second growth forest from destruction.”
Why Are We Clearing a Forest?
“We received a proposal to manage stormwater using pipes, ditches, and a large sedimentation pond. It was going to cost roughly $850,000 and they were going to clear around a hectare of forest,” stated Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Asset Management at qathet Regional District.
“Jason Gow, a senior planner from the City of Powell River, and I went on site to review the proposed engineering design. We wondered why are we clearing a forest to put in infrastructure to manage drainage runoff, when we know the forest can provide that service to some extent?”
“We tried to look for any similar case studies for a ‘volume of water per area of forest’ that can be safely managed, but we could not find anything. We had to get a hydrogeologist and professional engineer to take a look and give the go ahead,”
“Michael and a small army of local professionals were able to develop a natural asset solution to manage the landfill runoff. The new green infrastructure plan saved $700,000 of taxpayer money and 0.5 hectares of second growth forest,” added Gracelyn Shannon, asset management professional.
TO LEARN MORE:
To read the complete article, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Integrating Natural Assets into Infrastructure on BC’s Sunshine Coast.