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Success Stories: Rainwater Champions & Innovators

DODGING DAY ZERO IN CAPETOWN: “The next step comprises the management of all water within the urban water cycle. A key component of this is rain and stormwater harvesting, which offers great growth opportunities,” stated Deputy Mayor Ian Nelson


“The City has already initiated steps towards the goal of becoming a water-sensitive city by 2040. In the City’s draft water strategy, which will be taken through an inclusive public participation process over the coming months, the use of rain and stormwater is included,” stated Ian Neilson. The first step in being able to use stormwater as a water resource was to move stormwater and river management out of the City’s transport department and into the water department. This has already been done, added Nielson.

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Leading Change on Canada’s Prairies: A unique rain garden has been installed along the perimeter of Harvest Townhomes, which the developer says is a first in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


“West Coast style has migrated to the prairies at Harvest Townhomes, designed and constructed by Arbutus Properties in its popular community, The Meadows,” wrote Jeannie Armstrong. “The Harvest Townhomes development has above-ground 3-storey townhomes with colourful exteriors and attached garages, a style more typical of Vancouver than Saskatoon. When fully built out, Harvest Townhomes will comprise over 225 units. A unique rain garden, developed in consultation with the University of Saskatchewan, has also been installed along the perimeter of Harvest Townhomes.”

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Stream daylighting would reconnect community to Mississippi River: Redevelopment of historic Ford car assembly site in Saint Paul, Minnesota offers potential for “A 21st Century Community”


There once was a creek running through the St. Paul land where Henry Ford built his Twin Cities Assembly Plant. The project will reintroduce area residents to the Mississippi River.“We know we have a new neighborhood and how do we allow the existing neighbors and new neighbors to physically connect with the river as a resource?” he asked. “This is so powerful, because it’s also a way to have people reconnect with the urban ecosystem and the downstream river.”

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VIDEO: “Maximum Extent Practicable, or MEP, has become the definitional driver for a lot of what we do,” said Andy Reese, engineer and writer who coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006 to explain the pitfalls inherent in urban drainage practice


“Years ago I was privileged to travel around the US with EPA putting on seminars,” stated Andy Reese in 2011. “Three off-the-cuff words have probably have had the biggest impact in influencing land design of any sort of regulatory program that ever was, and perhaps that ever will be. Those three words were maximum, extent and practicable. Back then, none of those words were capitalized. They were just a made-up term. But MEP is now taking on green infrastructure overtones, sustainability overtones, LID overtones, and on and on.”

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An Interview with Peter Law (November 2017): “Our goal is to educate people in the watershed surrounding Shelly Creek. We will be conducting ‘kitchen table talks’ to educate people on the effects of excess water running through the stream.”


The Shelly Creek experience foreshadows that an informed stream stewardship sector may prove to be a difference-maker that accelerates implementation of the ‘whole-system, water balance’ approach in British Columbia. “We’ve got some issues around trying to slow the water down. As lands get developed, we ditch and we drain everything and that moves water into the channel faster and pushes it into this place. As a site is developed or cleared, you’re actually looking at how you can slow the water down from that site, not drain it,” stated Peter Law.

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Green Infrastructure is a Resiliency Investment that Pays Dividends: “New York City can serve as a model for American coastal cities looking for ways to mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Carter Strickland, New York state director of The Trust for Public Land


With 520 miles of coastline, there are more residents living in high-risk flood zones in New York City than any other city in the United States. “As New York comes to grip with this new reality, the city, civic institutions, and community groups are building parks and playgrounds that incorporate plants, permeable pavement, greenroofs, green roofs, trees, bioswales, and rainwater catchment systems and other ‘green infrastructure’. This is important because cities are hotter than surrounding areas, and their residents are more vulnerable to heat waves, one of the greatest public health threats from climate change,” wrote Carter Strickland.

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VIDEO: Seattle Strategy for Green Stormwater Infrastructure – “GSI is an approach for mimicking the way intact forest ecosystems manage rainfall, to prevent stormwater pollution and make our neighborhoods greener and more livable at the same time,” stated Tracy Hackett


“Before our roads and houses were here, the native evergreen forests and that covered our Pacific Northwest landscape slowed and cleansed rainwater and helped it soak into the soil to recharge groundwater and replenish our creeks and rivers. Over the past 150 years, we have lost a great deal of this ecological function. We know now that the polluted runoff from impervious surfaces in urban areas is the number one threat to water quality in Puget Sound, that it’s toxic to salmon and other wildlife, and causes other problems like sewer overflows and flooding,” stated Tracy Hackett.

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“Washoe County, Nevada is one of the most rapidly urbanizing areas in the country. Why are cumulative impacts of development ignored?” asks engineer Kris Hemlein


“Cumulative environmental impacts can be defined as effects on the environment which are caused by the combined results of past, current and future activities,” wrote Kris Hemlein. “Human activities, with time, combine to collectively impact the environment. These effects may differ from the original, individual activities. For example, ecosystems can be damaged by the combined effects of human activities, such as air, land and/or water pollution; improper handling of industrial waste; and other human development activities. Do our county planners, planning commissioners and commissioners adequately consider cumulative impacts of urbanization on our existing residents?”

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Center for Infrastructure Modeling and Management: “The new Center has been set up as a sustainable undertaking. It is the combination of diverse needs, ideas and solutions that will make this vision for the Center work,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney, Director of Operations


“We’re so pleased with the agreement reached with the British Columbia Partnership for Water Sustainability. We have many needs in common, and many ideas to share. The leadership shown by the Partnership has led to a body of knowledge from which others can learn,” stated Charles Rowney. “British Columbia experience in whole-system, water balance based approaches in the Pacific Northwest adds a critical combination of tools and understanding to the water resources toolbox.”

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VIDEO: Langley Township has engineered several thriving ecosystems for its 1600 kilometres of watercourses


A culvert upgrade was needed where Yorkson Creek passes under 86 Avenue but instead of the usual round shape, the replacement in 2016 was square. “The previous narrow culvert caused water to rush through and made it difficult for fish to swim through.  The new culvert has angled baffles on the bottom side which creates a meandering watercourse,” explained Justin St. Andrassy. “We installed pool and ripple sequences,  habitat features, large woody debris, and we planted the entire restoration zone with native plantings over several years.”

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