Rainwater Management

    METRO VANCOUVER’S LIQUID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN HAS TWO COMPONENTS: “The big-ticket component that gets the headlines is sewage treatment. Equally important is the other component. Green infrastructure is the elephant in the room. It is all about the health of our stream systems,” stated Darrell Mussatto, former mayor of North Vancouver City (October 2023)

    “You get elected, and you start to learn. And you become inspired by what you see happening. I remember when the Fish Protection Act passed in 1997, and municipalities were required to have setbacks in creeks. This happened in my first term on council and was quite a challenge for us. This experience was my context when I served on and later chaired the Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee a decade later. The region’s Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan (LWMP) was another learning experience for me,” stated Darrell Mussatto.

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    START AND END WITH THE STREAM FOR A TRUE MEASURE OF SUCCESS: “The West Coast experience of Washington State, Oregon and California is a counterweight to those who lean to Ontario and Northeastern USA for their experience,” stated Jim Dumont, rainwater management thought leader (October 2023)

    “In British Columbia, we are on the right path. But that path seems to be a path less travelled. While many advances have been made in managing rainwater on-site, we have fallen behind US west coast states in protecting streams and reducing risk. Everything is in place in BC. We have led people to it, but we cannot force the uptake. We cannot force the change. The thing that I have found works is not technical. It is RISK MANAGEMENT. That is what will bring about the change. If we can get that discussion going, senior people will follow along,” stated Jim Dumont.

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    FLASHBACK TO 2012: “Given the huge knowledge bases that the sciences have built up around the hydrology of urban watersheds, it can come as a surprise when we realize how little is known about some of the basics. The urban tree canopy is an example,” stated (the late) Dr. Charles Rowney, Scientific Authority, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability announced the addition of a Tree Canopy Module to the Water Balance Model

    “Tree canopy interception of rainfall is a technical area where the fundamentals are well understood, but the empirical basis, the availability of actual observations, is still in its infancy. When it comes to the urban canopy, we just don’t have a lot to go on. Considering the importance of urban trees, we’re not sure why this knowledge gap has persisted. But when we began our research, it quickly became clear that there is a lot to learn about some of things that are important in dealing with the tree canopy. And it became just as clear that we had to improve the science,” stated the late Dr. Charles Rowney.

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    FLASHBACK TO 2007: “RAINwater management is about protecting streams, not how much volume can be infiltrated,” stated Corino Salomi, Area Manager, Department of Fisheries & Oceans, when the Beyond the Guidebook program was launched to initiate a course correction in how the DFO Urban Stormwater Guidelines were being implemented in British Columbia

    “It helps to look back to understand how we got to here. In 2000, DFO released Urban Stormwater Guidelines and Best Management Practices for Protection of Fish and Fish Habitat. By 2007, however, we had concerns about how the document was being interpreted and applied. ‘Beyond the Guidebook 2007’ represented the initial course correction,” stated Corinio Salomi. The Partnership for Water Sustainability has since released two more in the Beyond the Guidebook Series – in 2010 and 2015.

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    APPLICATION OF WATER BALANCE TARGETS: “We are moving from guidelines to tools,” stated Corino Salomi, Department of Fisheries & Oceans, in 2010 when he reflected on the evolution of the Water Balance Methodology and a science-based approach to rainwater management in British Columbia

    “The purpose of the ‘Beyond the Guidebook’ initiative is to help local governments and the development community establish what level of rainwater runoff volume reduction makes sense at the site, catchment and watershed scales. The objective is to protect stream health, which is broader than how much volume one can infiltrate on a particular development,” stated Corino Salomi, “Drainage practice is at a crossroad in the path defining the methodologies and applications used in rainwater management. “

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