Category:

Rainwater Capture: Planning

HOW TREES COULD SAVE THE CLIMATE: “Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today, and it provides hard evidence to justify the investment,” stated Professor Thomas Crowther, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (July 2019)


Around 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide would be suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions. This would be the most effective method to combat climate change. “We all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be. But we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage,” stated Thomas Crowther.

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BOWKER CREEK RESTORATION IS A BEACON OF HOPE: “Agree on the vision. Set the targets. Provide planners with the detail necessary to guide site level decisions as opportunities arise. Then implement,” urges Jody Watson, Capital Regional District


Replacement of the old Oak Bay High School with a new facility created the opportunity for a flagship creek restoration project. Completed in 2015, this has been a catalyst for action – for example, the Bowker Creek Developers’ Guide, in collaboration with the Urban Development Institute. “Channel restoration at Oak Bay High was a true ‘watershed moment’ for the creek and the community. It is a wonderful example of how a long-term coordinated plan to restore function to a degraded watershed can happen,” stated Jody Watson.

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URBAN TREE CANOPY: “A new science of valuing nature will shape our urban projects of the future,” says Bonnie Keeler – her area of expertise at the University of Minnesota is natural capital and the value of ecosystems


Bonnie Keeler reviewed 1,200 scientific studies on increasingly popular green infrastructures such as urban forests, parks, rain gardens, and wetlands and found in a recent paper that it’s unclear how well any of them stack up against “gray” solutions like concrete storm sewers and air conditioning. “There is a huge interest in expanding funding for green infrastructures,” she said. “But we don’t have a tool to understand their value.”

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LIFE AFTER CARBON: “The emerging idea inverts the modern-city hierarchy, restoring nature, instead of the city, as the dominant context,” wrote Peter Pastrik and John Cleveland in their book about cities that are reinventing themselves to combat climate change (published in 2018)


“Part of urban renaturing is a restorative exercise, a way to reinstate balance and sustainability to the city’s relationship with nature,” wrote Peter Pastrik. “When cities renature themselves, they pursue three distinct, interrelated applications of the idea. They expand the use of green infrastructure. They protect and enhance ecosystems and biodiversity. And they provide people with ways to immerse in nature. Each of these methods involves innovative practices used at multiple urban scales.”

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY’S BOLD PLAN FOR RAINWATER CAPTURE: “Measure W gives Los Angeles County and its 88 cities the chance to transform urban hardscapes into more nature-based, green infrastructure,” wrote UCLA’s Mark Gold in an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times


The county is developing a plan to supply 20% of annual water demand from rainwater capture. “Going forward, every street improvement initiative should be viewed as an opportunity for greener streets that facilitate water absorption and ensure that remaining runoff is treated. New park projects should include ways of capturing runoff on site for local irrigation or to augment groundwater supplies. With funding from Measure W to supplement existing funds, these goals now seem possible,” wrote Mark Gold.

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URBAN TREE CANOPY: “What the economy really needs is more trees” – Ross Gittins, the Sydney Morning Herald’s economics editor


“Planting trees in parks, gardens or streets has many benefits, helping to cool cities, slowing stormwater run-off, filtering air pollution, providing habitat for some animals, making people happier and encouraging walking,” wrote Ross Gittins. “Shading from strategically placed street trees can lower surrounding temperatures by up to 6 degrees – or up to 20 degrees over roads. Green roofs and walls can naturally cool buildings, substantially lowering demand for air-conditioning.”

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USE OF ‘MACHINE LEARNING’ TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN TREE CANOPY AND TREES: “Trees are pretty hard to map. So, what’s the solution if we want to map tree canopies in places with complex geographies? How do we fill in the gaps between official street tree census and trees in parks and on private property?” – Tim Wallace, geographer for the New York Times


“(Tree) surveys are expensive to conduct, difficult to maintain, and provide an incomplete picture of the entire extent of the urban tree canopy. Both the San Francisco inventory and the New York City TreesCount! do an impeccable job mapping the location, size and health of street trees, but exclude large chunks within the cities, like parks,” wrote Tim Wallace. “This data gap is neither accidental nor purposeful. The trees they mapped were a product of bureaucratic choices and limitations.”

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK PRIMER SERIES: “The purpose of the Primer is to connect the dots and disseminate information on the ‘science-based understanding’ that underpins the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems,” stated Peter Law, formerly with the BC Ministry of Environment, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released the Primer on Application of Ecosystem-based Understanding in the Georgia Basin (September 2016)


“An interface is needed to translate the complex products of science into achievable goals and implementable solution for practical resource management. This interface is what we now call a science-based understanding,” stated Peter Law. “Understanding how land development impacts watershed hydrology and the functions of aquatic ecosystems provides a solid basis for making decisions to guide action where and when it is most needed. This understanding will help multiple audiences ask the right questions so that communities make informed decisions.”

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK PRIMER SERIES: “It is helpful to reflect on the historical context to understand that the water balance approach had its genesis in the Stream Stewardship Series,” stated Erik Karlsen, formerly an Executive Director in the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released the Primer on Water Balance Methodology for Protecting Watershed Health (February 2014)


“Released circa 1993, Stream Stewardship: A Guide for Planners and Developers document was an early, and in some respects the first, local government focussed design with nature guide,” recalled Erik Karlsen. “Looking back, if the Stewardship Series was the first wave, the work of UBC’s James Taylor Chair on Sustainable Urban Landscapes was the second, and the Water Balance Approach is the third. Each of these ‘waves’ was initiated by different ‘groups’; but over time they merged from one to the other.”

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK PRIMER SERIES: “The Primer is a ‘bridging document’ – it illustrates how to seamlessly integrate the legal and administrative parts of land development,” stated Tim Pringle when the Primer on Land Development Process in BC was released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability (September 2013)


“While much attention is given to the technical and legal aspects of the Land Development Process, we are not aware of anyone who has addressed administration. At the heart of the Primer, then, is the discussion at the end of Section 6 about Administrative Process Requirements. This piece of the puzzle is the key to implementation of effective rainwater management systems on private property,” stated Tim Pringle. “The Primer will assist practitioners whose work addresses land subdivision concerns.”

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