Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Will Proposed Low Impact Development Standard Protect or Harm Washington State Watersheds?

In August 2008, the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board issued a ruling declaring effectively that the Department of Ecology’s (ECY) storm drainage requirements did not adhere to requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. In response, ECY formed a technical advisory committee to define ‘low impact development’ (LID) and to determine criteria for feasibility of LID. The committee finished its work in summer 2010.

In a recent letter to Governor Christine Gregoire, the Carnegie Group of Olympia has expressed its concerns about the pending regulatory direction. “As a result of this overly long process, ECY now proposes to write a perplexing version of ‘low impact development’ into National Pollution Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permits for municipalities,” wrote Carole Richmond, President.

“It is clear that ECY’s proposed standard for low impact development is far too weak and permissive to prevent fatal damage to Puget Sound watersheds….it is highly likely that we will lose the rest of the watersheds in the path of development by 2020,” concluded Carole Richmond.

What is the Goal?
Washington State's Puget Sound and British Columbia's Georgia Basin together comprise the Salish Sea. In terms of how rainwater management in a watershed context has evolved in this shared bio-region, the two jurisdictions had the same understanding of the science in the late1990s, but then moved along different pathways. 

To Learn More: Click on Will Proposed Low Impact Development Standard Protect or Harm Washington State Watersheds? to read a supporting story posted on the Water Bucket website.

News Release #2011-35
August 30, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"More Benign Planning, not more BMPs" is the defining sound-bite from the Plenary Panel at StormCon 2011

Low Impact Development is Passé
The 10th Annual North American Storwater Surface Quality Conference and Exposition (StormCon) opened with a plenary panel discussion on recent trends and changes in the way rainwater/stormwater is managed. Thomas Low, author of the Light Imprint Handbook: Integrating Sustainability and Community Design, reported out on what the panelists said.
"The overall buzz of the conference was that the stormwater industry is changing. And as one of the panelists stated, this change needs to move towards MBP, that is, 'more benign planning' ....instead of more BMPs or 'best management practices'," wrote Thomas Low in capturing a defining sound-bite from the conference. "The panel reminded us that the stormwater profession is a silo, and so we need to reach out to urban planners, transportation planners, etc." 
The panel considered nine questions. The one that resulted in the most insightful observations was this one: What is Passé versus Avant Garde? "LID or low impact development is passé. The new term of choice will be Green Infrastructure," stated panelist Paul Crabtree.

The Natural City Vision: Three Lenses to Shape the Future of Urban Communities in British Columbia

Creating Our Future: A Call to Action
Created by Vic Derman, the Natural City is a transformational document for local government. Well-versed in a water-centric way-of-thinking, he is a visionary elected representative from Vancouver Island. A retired educator, Vic Derman was one of the founders of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia, and has been on District of Saanich Council since 2002.

In the Natural City, Vic Derman introduces three lenses to shape the future of a region, namely: Regional Growth Strategy; Climate Change: Quality of Life and Place.  He calls the project "The Natural City" to reflect the dramatic shift in direction it demands. 
“Collectively, the three lenses bring our future into focus," writes Vic Derman. "The picture they define is one of environmental, social and economic sustainability. It portrays a new approach that cannot be accomplished with tinkering and incremental change. Instead, bold and visionary action will be needed." 

He lays out a layered design process that demonstrates how conventional approaches to urban design could be modified to meet the goals of the Natural City.

To Learn More: To download a copy of the Natural CIty document, and to access a series of YouTube videos of Vic Derman describing his vision, click on Creating Our Future: The Natural City Vision.

City of Portland Coins RAIN Acronym as an Alternative to 'Stormwater' Management

"Integrate Water and Vegetation to Transform Our Cities," advocates Tom Liptan
At the Water in the City Conference held in Victoria, British Columbia in September 2006, Tom Liptan of Portland, Oregon informed his Canadian audience that the City Portland has coined the acronym RAIN to contrast contemporary ‘rainwater management’ with traditional ‘stormwater management’, where: 
  • RAIN = Retaining And Integrating Nature
A landscape architect with the Bureau of Environmental Services, Tom Liptan has been the driving force behind the research and development of new urban techniques, codes and policies in the City of Portland. His work has been recognized internationally and he has presented papers at conferences and Universities in the USA, Canada, England, New Zealand, Denmark and Sweden.  A book titled Rain Gardens by Dunnett and Clayton, 2007, has a dedication to his efforts.  He is co-author of the chapter “Stormwater Gardens” in Handbook of Water Sensitive Planning and Design, 2002.

“The language-shift that you have initiated in British Columbia is what we would like to see happen in Portland. This is one reason why the Bureau of Environmental Services has coined the RAIN acronym. We believe this will help promote changes in thinking and practice so that we achieve beneficial outcomes," stated Tom Liptan.

“Rainwater management is all about developing in a way that restores the function and value of trees, soil and open space in our communities. If we develop today with long-term sustainability in mind, future generations can enjoy a vibrant city and clean and healthy rivers, instead of bearing the burden of our actions."

To Learn More: To read the complete story posted on the Water Bucket website, click oin City of Portland Coins RAIN Acronym as an Alternative to 'Stormwater' Management.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Science-Based Road Map for Integrated Rainwater Management

Factors Limiting Stream Health - 
What Matters Most?
Washington State's Puget Sound and British Columbia's Georgia Basin together comprise the Salish Sea. In the 1990s, the goal of protecting stream health became a driver for action on both sides of the border. In 1996, the seminal research findings by Richard Horner and Chris May shook conventional stormwater management wisdom in the Pacific Northwest to its foundation.

Horner and May identified and ranked the four factors that limit stream health. Changes in hydrology is #1; deterioration in water quality is #4. If the goal is protection of aquatic resources, Horner and May demonstrated that a water quality driven program would not achieve the goal.

"The stream health findings by Horner and May gave us a springboard to reinvent urban hydrology. Released by the Province in June 2002, Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia is a transformational document. It quickly became a catalyst to implement a ‘design with nature’ approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure," states Peter Law. Formerly with the BC Ministry of Environment, Peter Law chaired the Guidebook Steering Committee.

To read the complete story posted on the Water Bucket website, click on A Science-Based Road Map for Integrated Rainwater Management.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Drainage Modelling in the 21st Century: What We Now Know About What Drives a Successful Model

Click here to view full-size image

The Voice of Experience
Periodically, the Water Balance Model Partnership holds a Partners Forum. These gatherings provide an opportunity for local governments to learn from each other, and reflect on what has been accomplished through alignment and collaboration.

Dr. Charles Rowney is the Scientific Authority for the Water Balance Model and creator of the QUALHYMO calculation engine. He is a recognized global authority in his fields of expertise, and brings a wealth of North American and international experience to his responsibilities. At the 2011 Forum, Dr. Rowney reported out on the implications of computing technology decisions. Dr. Rowney's theme was: "The Voice of Experience - What we now know about what drives a successful model".  

"I do a lot of talking around North America and elsewhere about models and model requirements. As a result, I have been able to distil a synthesis of the opinions of several hundred people from all around the world who have done a lot of modelling. Within this group are individuals who I consider to be the premier people in their field," stated Dr. Rowey.

Dr, Rowney introduced local government participants to the seven impediments to success in hydrologic modelling and explained that the Water Balance Model successfully resolves 6 of 7 impediments. To learn more, click here to read the Part 1 story posted on the Water Bucket website.

Dr. Rowney also introduced his audience to a synthesis that he has coined as the Uncertainty Cascade. This mind-map comprises eleven steps that cascade down from a theory to interpretation of results. To learn more, click here to read the Part 2 story posted on the Water Bucket website.

Asset Management BC and Local Government Management Association Co-Host Workshop on "Leadership and Communication: Getting Out the Message"

October 18 Workshop in Kelowna Sets Stage for Sustainable Service Delivery in BC
How do we convey to our politicians and our paying public the state of our infrastructure and the rationale for the money to maintain and replace it especially when we know we just do not have enough money?  Asset Management BC and the LGMA in their Fall workshop in Kelowna, Tuesday October 18 at the Coast Capri hotel is addressing this specific issue, reports Wally Wells, Asset Management BC Coordinator.  

"The workshop is focused on merging the technical and financial aspects of asset management into manageable plans and programs. Once we have that, we have the task of successfully communicating the message to our councils/boards and our users/payers," explains Wally Wellls.

"Current initiatives through Asset Management BC in working with both Alberta and Saskatchewan municipalities to pilot the Australian developed NAMS asset management process in Canada will be presented as case studies by communities in both provinces."
"Chief Administrative Officers Alberto De Feo of the District of Lake Country and Kim Gartner of the Town of Macklin, Saskatchewan will tell you their stories and how they are achieving success. David Love of the Town of Golden will present their recent experience on using the Australian NAMS system for asset management."

"Want to know where Infrastructure Canada is heading under a majority government? Hear from Claude Blanchette Director General, Program Operations. Also hear from Glen Brown, Executive Director of the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development on why asset management matters."
"A special feature of the workshop is a lesson in learning to communicate by Therese Mickelson, Editor of the LGMA magazine. Chris Champion, CEO of the Insititute of Public Works Engineering of Australia (IPWEA), returns to share their experiences and best practices."
"If you are a politician, CAO, finance manager or technical manager in operations and engineering, there is something of interest for you," concludes Wally Wells.

To Learn More: For program and registration details, click here to access the Asset Management BC website. To learn more about the Province’s vision for Sustainable Service Delivery, click here.

News Release #2011-34
August 24, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

DFO Urban Stormwater Guidelines have evolved into 'Beyond the Guidebook 2010'

Water Balance Model supports ‘designing with nature’ to protect stream health
In November 2000, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) produced the Urban Stormwater Guidelines and Best Management Practices for Protection of Fish and Fish Habitat, Draft Discussion Document; and set a direction for the development industry. By 2007, the Guidelines had evolved into "Beyond the Guidebook". 

“We are moving from guidelines to tools,” states Corino Salomi. He is Area Manager, Oceans, Habitat & Enhancement Branch, Lower Fraser Area. He represents the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) on the steering committee for the Inter-Governmental Partnership (IGP) that developed and maintains the Water Balance Model. According to Corino Salomi, the 2000 document "got practitioners thinking about how to capture rainfall in order to reduce runoff volume and protect water quality."

"By 2007, however, we had concerns about how the document was being interpreted and applied. Beyond the Guidebook 2007 represents the initial course correction. It introduced a science-based analytical methodology that enabled local governments to explore the requirements for stream health protection. This methodology is now embedded in the Water Balance Model. "

The Water Balance Model is a tool to assess green infrastructure effectiveness. The user can correlate runoff volume management strategies with stream erosion and water quality outcomes. This process allows the delivery of watershed-specific and outcome-oriented plans that are specifically applicable to the municipality, watershed and stream.

To Learn More: 

The rollout of Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia commenced in September at the 2010 annual convention of local governments. This ‘water-centric’ guidance document tells the stories of how change is being implemented on the ground in British Columbia.

United States EPA Reconsiders Imposition of Nation-Wide Cap on Sediment Discharges from Construction Sites

National Association of Home Builders applauds EPA decision
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to reconsider the imposition of a nationwide cap on how much sediment can be part of the stormwater draining from a construction site, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

EPA's announcement comes more than 18 months after NAHB sued EPA over its first proposal to develop a numeric limit for the turbidity, or cloudiness, of stormwater discharges, which the EPA voluntarily withdrew, recognizing that it was not legally defensible. 

"EPA set a numeric limit for water cloudiness that was based on flawed analyses," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a builder in Reno, Nevada. "In its calculations, EPA relied on questionable data...That's no way to come up with national policy."

According to Neilsen, the EPA decision is a nod to the importance of sound science – and a big victory for home buyers.

To read the complete story posted on the Water Bucket website, click here.