Category:

Success Stories: Rainwater Champions & Innovators

GENERATIONAL AMNESIA: “We transform the world, but we don’t remember it. We adjust our baseline to the new level, and we don’t recall what was there. You can have a succession of changes. At the end you want to sustain miserable leftovers. And the question is, why do people accept this? Well, because they don’t know that it was different,” stated UBC’s Dr. Daniel Pauly, a living legend in the world of marine biology


In September 2021, Greystone Books published The Ocean’s Whistleblower. It is the first authorized biography of Daniel Pauly, a truly remarkable man. Daniel Pauly is a living legend in the world of marine biology. And he lives in British Columbia. Among his many contributions is the Shifting Baseline Syndrome. This is a foundational concept. And it goes to the heart of the vision for intergenerational collaboration.

Read Article

A VIEW FROM OUTSIDE BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Bound by geography, invested in salmon protection, and connected to the natural environment, the Metro Vancouver region has spent time fostering new green infrastructure for rainwater management,” stated Charles Axelesson, PhD candidate at the University of Venice, when reflecting on readings and discussions with people in the Metro Vancouver region


“There is an openness and not only an admission but the acceptance that the existing green policies and practices they have now, particularly for replicating natural flow patterns in urban streams, may not hold all the answers. Even the natural world is sometimes overwhelmed by rainfall. Instead, there is a direct discussion on how to maximize greener solutions but support them with our existing infrastructure and knowledge base. This is vital for climate change adaptations as we need to plan for 50 to100 years into the future while simultaneously solving the problems of tomorrow,” stated Charles Axelsson.

Read Article

CITY OF VANCOUVER’S RAIN CITY STRATEGY: “We know how to design it (green infrastructure). What we’re aimed at now is mainstreaming it,” stated Melina Scholefield, the City of Vancouver’s manager of green infrastructure implementation


“Though the City of Vancouver has an over 20-year history installing green infrastructure, until 2018, it was rarely done systematically and did not use geotechnical studies to understand how fast water could penetrate the ground underfoot. The good news is we get to learn from our peers. We get to leapfrog a bit. Some of the biggest hurdles have been simple regulations grandfathered in from another era. Meanwhile, direction from Metro Vancouver, and ultimately the province, is up in the air as the regional body updates its Regional Liquid Waste Management Plan,” said Melina Scholefield.

Read Article

FLASHBACK TO 2008: “There is no piped drainage system on the site. Water stored on the roof spills onto a dry creek bed and flows sub-surface to a marsh,” stated the City of Nanaimo’s Dean Mousseau when he described the ‘design with nature’ approach to rainwater management at the Inland Kenworth site (YouTube Video)


The Inland Kenworth truck and heavy equipment facility in the City of Nanaimo illustrates what can be accomplished through collaboration when a municipality challenges a development proponent to be innovative, green the built environment, and protect stream health. “We view this project as the one that changed the thinking of the consulting community in Nanaimo, particularly on redevelopment projects. We are turning the tide because projects are now incorporating features for rainwater runoff capture,” stated Dean Mousseau.

Read Article

THE SECOND DECADE OF DELTA’S RAIN GARDEN PROGRAM: “The close collaboration between the City of Delta, the Streamkeepers, other volunteers and the Delta School District is what has allowed the rain garden program to persist for 15 years. I look forward to encouraging these types of projects in the years to come,” stated Mayor George Harvie (June 2020)


The City of Delta’s rain garden program evolved gradually, in the manner of any good garden — from early conversations in 1999, through the first rain garden in 2006, to the 29 school and community rain gardens in 2019. “The City has a long history of working closely with the Cougar Creek Streamkeepers on projects that improve watershed conditions. One example of this is the highly successful rain garden program, which has not only increased stormwater infiltration in our urban areas but has also created beautiful amenities in the community,” stated Mayor George Harvie.

Read Article

THE FIRST DECADE OF PHILADELPHIA’S GREEN CITY, CLEAN WATERS PROGRAM: “We had sold people on the concept, but we did not expect the level of complexity that was required, the level of partnership. We had no idea,” said Paula Conolly, director of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange


Since entering into an innovative partnership with the United States EPA almost a decade ago, Philadelphia has become a testing ground for green technologies. Philadelphia’s program involves creating ‘greened acres’ — expanses of impervious land that are transformed either to absorb the first 1½ inches of rainfall or send it into rain gardens or other local green infrastructure systems. The City has created more than 1,500 of a projected 10,000 greened acres.

Read Article

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE & A TALE OF TWO CITIES: “Philadelphia has set an example in storm water management the Chicago area should follow to reduce flooding, make waterways cleaner and give a welcome economic boost to struggling communities,” stated an editorial in the Chicago Sun Times (March 2018)


“Instead of expanding our infrastructure, we put together a plan to price, value, reuse, recycle, infiltrate, transpire or otherwise manage, every drop of rainwater we could. We started to invent the millions of ways to reduce the amount of rainwater that arrived at our sewer inlets. The goal was to consider rainwater as a commodity and a resource—if it enters a sewer drain it becomes a costly waste product,” explained Howard Neukrug, former Philadelphia Water Commissioner. “There is no single formula for success—and we still don’t know whether ultimately we will succeed.”

Read Article

WATER, PLACE & RECONCILIATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Our vision is to transform an eco-liability into an eco-asset in the heart of the K’ómoks Estuary,” states Caila Holbrook, Project Watershed’s Manager of Fundraising, Outreach and Mapping


“Pre-1950 aerial photographs confirm that Kus-kus-sum was indeed a forested streamside area in the K’ómoks Estuary with side-channels connecting it to the adjacent Hollyhock Marsh,” stated Caila Holbrook. ”The restoration process will include removing built infrastructure from the site, removing fill, re-grading the topography of the area, planting native species and removing the steel wall. Nature will come back; it is already trying to – as trees and salt marsh plants are poking through the 1 foot deep rebar-reinforced concrete.”

Read Article

URBAN DESIGN, NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING & PACKAGE OF ECOLOGICAL SERVICES: Town of Comox precedents are working examples of what “reconnecting hydrology and ecology” looks like in practice


Town of Comox experience demonstrates that ‘Ecological Services are Core Municipal Services, not an Add-On’. Mayor Russ Arnott elaborates: “The ecological services within Brooklyn Creek are integral components of the Town’s core services of rainwater management, parks and fish habitat protection. Once the Town switched to viewing ecological services as core municipal services, we then asked ourselves: how can we do things better? The Draft Anderton Corridor Neighbourhood Concept Plan is the result.”

Read Article

PHILADELPHIA’S GREEN CITY, CLEAN WATERS PROGRAM:”Howard Neukrug fundamentally changed Philadelphia’s relationship with nature, and other cities are watching with great interest,” wrote Pascal Mittermaier in an interview published by the Huffington Post in 2017


Philadelphia’s green programs really began as pushback to an expensive grey infrastructure mandate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce sewer overflows that occur even during the most minor rainstorms. And to make this change, the water sector needed to expand its definition of “sustainable” from “a longer lasting concrete treatment structure” to a more universal understanding that sustainability is a bigger concept that involves more than just managing overflows.

Read Article