Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sustainable Rainwater Management: Mimic the Water Balance and Adapt to a Changing Climate!

From Science to Approaches, Tools and Guides
The 2012 annual conference of the Planning Institute of BC was held in Harrison Hot Springs. The program theme, Planning on the Edge of Change, was inspired by the world becoming a global community. The challenge is making the changes with a clear vision of the way "it" should be. A pre-conference training workshop provided an opportunity to showcase the Water Balance Model for BC, a unique web-based scenario comparison tool.

The training workshop was titled From Science to Approaches, Tools and Guides - 14 Climate Adaptation Experts/Leaders. Facilitated by Cathy Leblance (Province of BC), the workshop was a day of applied science, an adaptive ecological systems approach, websites, guides and tools (i.e. sea level rise/national primer, water and watershed planning, urban forests, implementation guide for local governments, BC Regional Adaptation Collaboratives projects, forest communities).

For the past three years, the federal-provincial Regional Adaptation Collaboratives program has funded enhancement of the Water Balance Model. The purpose of the program is to support coordinated action towards advancing regional climate change adaptation decision-making.

"The workshop provided a timely opportunity to preview several new modules, in particular the Climate Change Module. In doing so, the audience reaction served as a good litmus test of how others are likely to respond in the coming weeks and months as we ramp up our rollout. The response to the Express version of the Water Balance Model was especially encouraging," states Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the Water Balance Model Partnership. He is the Senior Engineer in the BC Ministry of Agriculture.

“In talking about the Climate Change Module, I explained that the team of Chris Jensen, Dr. Charles Rowney and Jim Dumont have taken the complex science of global climate modeling and have incorporated it in a way that we believe makes it easy for engineers, planners and others to understand and apply.”

"The highlight of the day for me was the enthusiastic reaction when I presented some images that illustrate our vision for the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners. To be rolled out later in 2012, this tool will have pre-set performance targets that are watershed-specific. This means that landowners will then be able to focus on the geometrics of fitting rainfall capture measures onto their properties."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Provincial Funding in British Columbia Linked to Viewing Watersheds through a “Sustainable Service Delivery” Lens

An Incentive to Do Business Differently
The linkages between the natural Water Balance, watershed and stream health, and infrastructure liability have emerged as important pieces in ensuring ‘sustainable drainage infrastructure’ in British Columbia, both fiscally and ecologically.

"If local governments and others are to be effective over time in creating liveable and desirable communities that also protect stream health, it follows that land development practices must strive to mimic the Water Balance," states Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, and the principal author of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in 2002. The Partnership is helping the Province deliver both the Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives.

The Unfunded Infrastructure Liability
Local governments in British Columbia are faced with this financial challenge: the initial capital cost of infrastructure is about 20% of the life-cycle cost; the other 80% largely represents a future unfunded liability. Each year, the funding shortfall grows. As infrastructure ages and fails, local governments cannot keep up with renewal and/or replacement. This fiscal reality creates the incentive to prevent additional financial impacts. 

"While developers and new home purchasers pay the initial capital cost of municipal infrastructure, it is local government that assumes responsibility for the long-term cost associated with operation, maintenance and replacement of infrastructure assets", states Raymond Fung, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership. He is the Director of Engineering and Transportation with the District of West Vancouver.

"Often this is not adequately funded through property taxation and utility charges, as various political priorities compete for limited tax dollars. In addition, local governments bear the entire financial burden to stabilize and restore watercourses impacted by increased rainwater runoff volume AFTER land is developed." 

LEARN MORE: To download an article that connects the dots between watershed-based planning and infrastructure asset management, click on Integrated Rainwater Management: Move to a Levels-of-Service Approach to Sustainable Service Delivery.

The New Business As Usual
Tackling the unfunded infrastructure liability has led to a life-cycle way of thinking about infrastructure needs, in particular how to pay for those needs over time. The Province’s branding for this holistic approach is Sustainable Service Delivery

"Asset management usually commences after something is built. The challenge is to think about what asset management entails BEFORE the asset is built. Cost-avoidance is a driver for this 'new business as usual'. This paradigm-shift starts with land use and watershed-based planning, to determine what services can be provided affordably," states Glen Brown, the Executive Director of the Province’s Local Government Infrastructure and Finance Division and the Deputy Inspector of Municipalities.

“The legislative authority for integration of land use planning and asset management, including financial management, already exists. Also, the provincial Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives are catalysts for ‘designing with nature’: Start with effective green infrastructure and protect environmental values. Get the watershed vision right. Then create a blueprint to implement green infrastructure.” 

Design with Nature and Protect the Water Balance
The costs and environmental impacts associated with ‘pipe-and-convey’ infrastructure contrast with the benefits of ‘green’ infrastructure at a watershed scale: natural landscape-based assets reduce runoff volumes, have lower life-cycle costs, decrease stresses applied to creeks, and enhance urban liveability

“Demonstrating Sustainable Service Delivery is a criteria within provincial funding programs; and this provides context for linking land use planning, watershed health and infrastructure liability,” concludes Glen Brown. 

Links to YouTube Video Clips
At the 2011 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series, the spotlight was on the unfunded ‘infrastructure liability’ confronting all local governments. This is a driver for a change in the way local governments plan, finance, implement and over time replace infrastructure. 

At Seminar #1, Glen Brown provided the provincial big picture. He then explained the significance of the unfunded infrastructure liability and defined Sustainable Service Delivery. Finally, he  elaborated on the need for local governments to be nimble, collaborative and integrated. To view Glen Brown and learn more, click on these links to video clips posted on YouTube:
  1. Asset Management defined in terms of 'Sustainable Service Delivery' (1:16 minutes)
  2. Sustainable Service Delivery Principle #1 - It's All About Service (2:10 minutes)
  3. Sustainable Service Delivery Principle #2 - Define its Quality (1:26 minutes)
  4. Sustainable Service Delivery Principle #3 - Operation & Maintenance Requirements (2:01 minutes)
  5. So, What is Sustainable Service Delivery? (2:35 minutes)

Regional District of Nanaimo hosts Water Balance Model Workshop on “Integrating the Site with the Watershed and Stream”

Mimic the Water Balance!
On June 12 in Nanaimo, at a workshop hosted by the Regional District of Nanaimo, the District of North Vancouver’s Richard Boase will be sharing the case study demonstration applications that underpin development of the Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool and the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners. "The screening tool will be unveiled at the Nanaimo workshop; and the Express will be rolled out later in 2012," states Richard Boase.

Inter-Regional Education Initiative
Vancouver Island is a hot-bed of watershed-based strategies and programs. Now, four regional districts and municipal members are aligning their efforts to advance the Vancouver Island Inter-Regional Education Initiative. The program will help everyone go farther, more efficiently and effectively.

“The desired outcome in bringing together the four regions is that there will be a common understanding of core concepts for ‘designing with nature’; and those involved in land use and/or water use will utilize those core concepts to reduce their water footprints, protect stream health and adapt to a changing climate,” reports John Finnie, General Manager for Regional and Community Utilities at the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). He is the Past Chair of CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island.

“The technical foundation for this ‘mission possible’ is provided by the web-based Water Balance Model. This unique scenario comparison and decision support tool can help communities create a vision for a desired future watershed condition. The performance target methodology embedded in the model integrates the Site with the Watershed and the Stream.”

“The RDN and the municipalities of Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Lantzville are now fully committed to implementation of the region’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Plan. Recognition of the relationship between land development practices and watershed health is a foundation piece for this provincially significant initiative. Use of the Water Balance Model would help everyone be consistent in implementing green infrastructure practices that are effective in mimicking the natural water balance,” concludes John Finnie.

TO LEARN MORE:  Also, for an AGENDA PREVIEW, click on Sustainable Rainwater Management: Regional District of Nanaimo hosts second in 2012-2013 series of “Water Balance Model Training Workshops”.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

British Columbia's Capital Regional District hosts course on “Developing Effective Watershed Blueprints and ISMPs”

Everyone is Challenged to 
Achieve More with the Same Resources
Vancouver Island is a hot-bed of watershed-based strategies and programs. Now, four regional districts and municipal members are aligning their efforts to advance the Vancouver Island Inter-Regional Education Initiative. The program will help everyone go farther, more efficiently and effectively.

On June 19-20, the Capital Regional District concludes the first round of inter-regional “sharing and learning” events. The CRD is hosting a 2-day course on how to develop outcome-oriented Watershed Blueprints and incorporate innovation and efficiency into Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMPs). The course informs and supports the goals of the region’s IntegratedWatershed Management Implementation Strategy.

“Local governments have many competing priorities and everyone is challenged to achieve more with the same resources in order to reduce risk, improve watershed health and comply with regulatory requirements,” states the CRD’s Dale Green. He is Supervisor of the Stormwater, Harbours and Watershed Program.

“Moving to a watershed-focused program will allow the CRD to support the municipalities and electoral areas with new strategies for environmental protection, including an increased focus on dealing with watershed stressors near the source rather than at the infrastructure or receiving environment level.”

“Additionally, the strategy will support efforts in watersheds that cross municipal boundaries and provide guidance towards measuring watershed and receiving environment health to better assess program efforts.”

“The 2-day course has been developed by local government for local government. It will guide land use, infrastructure and environmental professionals through the stages and steps in developing a balanced, truly integrated and financially sustainable plan that protects and/or restores watershed function over time,” concludes Dale Green.

E-Blast #2012-21
May 29, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

British Columbia Partnership announces that rebuilt “Water Balance Model” now incorporates Tree Canopy Module

2nd Announcement in a Series 
The Water Balance Model for British Columbia is a scenario comparison tool. Re-launched on a Linux platform, the WBM now incorporates the Tree Canopy Module. This innovation resulted from a unique multi-jurisdictional partnership.  Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) collaborated with Metro Vancouver’s three North Shore municipalities --- North Vancouver District, North Vancouver City, and West Vancouver --- to establish a network of 60 monitoring stations that quantified tree canopy interception of annual rainfall.

“If a tree on an urban lot is cut down, how big is the net loss on that lot?  Or if a tree is planted, how big is the benefit?  If a tree overshadows grass on one side and a rooftop on the other, how does it compare to a tree simply spreading over a lawn?  The unfortunate situation is that until now, answering these kinds of questions was largely based on what we might call informed guesswork - if they were answered at all,” states Yeganeh Asadian, the UBC researcher whose thesis informed development of the Tree Canopy Module.

“Yet these questions are exactly the ones that need to be dealt with if we are going to properly manage this vital resource.  We need more than good principles and concepts.  To make well founded decisions, we need to be able to put numbers on the results of the decisions we make.”

TO LEARN MORE: To read the complete story, click on BritishColumbia Partnership announces that rebuilt “Water Balance Model” nowincorporates Tree Canopy Module. To read a set of related articles, scroll down or click on these links:  
Anyone can register as a TRIAL USER. Just go to to set up an account and check out the Tree Canopy Module. 

E-Blast #2012-20
May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rainfall Interception in an Urban Environment: Results of UBC Tree Canopy Research published

Urban Trees Intercept More Rainfall 
Than Trees in Forested Environments
During the period 2005 through 2010, the City of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Water Balance Model  Partnership, University of British Columbia (UBC), Metro Vancouver, Ministry of Community & Rural Development, Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, and Canada Water Network collaborated to fund and implement the North Shore Tree Canopy Interception Research Project.  A network of 60 tree canopy climate stations was installed across the North Shore region.

The purpose of the Project was to quantify the proportion of rainfall intercepted by the tree canopy in an urban forest. The Project can inform urban planning by providing a science-based understanding regarding the benefits of maintaining a tree canopy in the urban environment.

"We applied a unique methodology for measuring rain/throughfall under  different urban trees using a system of PVC pipes hung beneath the canopy to capture the throughfall where it drained into a rain gauge attached to a data logger," states Yeganeh Asadian, the UBC researcher who undertook the study under the direction of Dr. Markus Weiler and Dr. Hans Schreier.

"To ensure that the study adequately captured the range of throughfall variability, trees were selected to sample different landscape sites (streets, parks, and natural forested areas), elevations, tree type, health condition and species, including Douglas-fir, Western red cedar, Bigleaf maple, Oak, Copper beech, Horse chestnut,  Cherry, and Poplar."

"The results showed that urban trees intercept and evapotranspire more rain than trees in forested environments. Together with the delay in runoff trees can act as an effective rainwater management tool on individual properties," concludes Yeganeh Asadian.

TO LEARN MORE: To download a copy of the Master of Science thesis completed by Yeganeh Asadian at the University of Britsh Columbia, click on Rainfall Interception in an Urban Environment

A New Approach in Measuring Rainfall Interception by Urban Trees in Coastal British Columbia

Innovation in Rainwater Management
"Rapid urban expansion, increased traffic, ageing infrastructure, greater climatic variability, and the need for enhanced sustainability of urban water resources pose significant challenges to conventional stormwater management," states Dr. Hans Schreier of the University of British Columbia.

"Innovative approaches are needed in order to mitigate the risk of flooding, pollution, and aquatic ecosystem degradation, and enhance beneficial uses of urban waters."

"To examine such approaches, a series of three regional conferences on innovative rainwater/stormwater management were held in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto during 2007 to 2008 under the sponsorship of the Canadian Water Network (CWN) and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)."

"The programs for each of these regional events included a presentation on the Urban Forest Research Project that was implemented in Metro Vancouver during the 2005 - 2010 period. The resulting paper was co-authored by Dr. Markus Weiler and Yeganeh Asadian."

A New Approach
"Interception loss plays an important role in controlling the water balance of a watershed, especially where urban development has taken place. The aim of the Urban Forest Research Project was to illustrate the importance of urban trees as a form of ‘green infrastructure’ where they reduce rainwater runoff and rainwater intensity. In addition, trees cause a delay in precipitation reaching the ground," states Dr. Markus Weiler, former Chair of Forest Hydrology at UBC. He was responsible for the developing the research approach.

"We studied the interception loss in the North Shore of British Columbia. We applied a unique methodology for measuring throughfall under six different urban trees using a system of long polyvinyl chloride pipes hung beneath the canopy capturing the throughfall and draining it to a rain gauge attached to a data logger," continues Yeganeh Asadian. She completed the research and analysis in fulfillment of her Master's thesis.

"We selected different tree species in variable landscape sites (streets, parks, and natural forested areas) and elevations to ensure that the system adequately captured the throughfall variability." 

TO LEARN MORE: To download a copy of the paper by Yeganeh Asadian and Dr. Markus Weiler, click on A New Approach in Measuring Rainfall Interception by Urban Trees in Coastal British Columbia.

For an overview of the papers presented at the conference series, click on Innovation in Stormwater Management in Canada: The Way Forward to download a paper co-authored by Hans Schreier and Jiri Marsalek, series organizers.

University of British Columbia Brings Rainwater Management Science into the Community

What Proportion of Rainfall 
Does the Tree Canopy Intercept?
Collaboration between researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Metro Vancouver region’s three North Shore municipalities --- North Vancouver District, North Vancouver City, and the District of West Vancouver --- opened the door to a long-term partnership to bring science into the community. In 2007, Clovelly-Caulfeild in West Vancouver was the first North Shore neighbourhood to step forward and participate in the Urban Forest Research Project

According to Paddy Sherman, Chair of the Council-appointed Clovelly-Caulfeild Neighourhood Plan Working Group, “We are impressed by the innovative and easy-to-install system that Dr. Markus Weiler of UBC and Richard Boase of North Vancouver District have developed for capturing rain that makes it through the tree canopy. The community volunteers are excited to play a part in this project."

"This on-the-ground research by UBC will inform the neighbourhood planning process by bringing science into the discussion of the role that trees play in the urban environment. It will also advance the state-of-the-practice in rainwater management.” 

Participation of Clovelly-Caulfeild residents in the UBC project was an outcome of a neighbourhood planning process. Recent redevelopment has altered considerably some existing streetscapes and landforms. Historically, drainage has not been an issue in the Clovelly-Caulfeild area. But this has changed – as trees have been removed, drainage has emerged as a problem under both rainy weather and drought conditions. The pervasive effects of not ‘designing with nature’ have been becoming more and more visible, and have been extending across a larger and larger area.

TO LEARN MORE: To read the complete story posted on the website in February 2007, click on Tree Canopy Research Project Engages Clovelly-Caulfeild Neighbourhood in West Vancouver.

District of North Vanouver Partnered with Community Association to Build Tree Canopy Climate Stations

Pre-Fabrication of Monitoring Stations
In 2006 - 2007, the District of North Vancouver partnered with ARC Woodworking Services, a division of the former North Shore Association for the Mentally Handicapped (now known as the North Shore Connexions Society), to carry out one aspect of a unique rainwater management applied research program. This partnership was featured in an newspaper article published by the North Shore News
The partnership was made possible by a grant that the District received from the Real Estate Foundation of BC to advance the state-of-the-practice in rainwater management, specifically the role that trees play in rainwater interception and absorption. 

The program involved placing wooden monitoring stations underneath the canopies of 60 trees to capture and measure rainfall that penetrates the tree canopy. A portion of the grant covered the assembly costs for the monitoring stations. The unique nature of the project equipment, combined with the timing, required the District to look outside for assistance with assembly.

Enter ARC Woodworking Services. ARC provides practical woodworking and warehousing skills to persons with developmental disabilities as well as supporting individuals to have access to gainful employment opportunities in the community.

“The Real Estate Foundation grant is what really allowed us to venture into the community and establish this relationship with ARC Woodworking,” said Richard Boase, the District's Environmental Protection Officer. “We were able to go to ARC Woodworking with a rather unique and weird-looking contraption and they immediately said “Yes we can help you”. They have been great to work with I am sure we will be working together in the future.”

Two participants from the ARC team built 60 stations over a period of several weeks. Shown below is the prototype monitoring station that was installed on the roof of the District Municipal Hall.

District of North Vancouver Partnered with University of British Columbia to Quantify Benefits of Tree Canopy Interception

Initiative Supported Enhancement of 
Water Balance Model
In 2006, the District of North Vancouver and the University of British Columbia (UBC) initiated a precedent-setting initiative in order to enhance the capabilities of the web-based Water Balance Model for British Columbia.  Undertaken in partnership with a number of agencies, the purpose of the Urban Forest Research Project was to quantify the proportion of rainfall intercepted by the tree canopy in an urban forest. 

“It is exciting how quickly this project came together,” observed the District's Richard Boase at the time. “It was only 12 months ago  that we had our first meeting with Dr. Hans Schreier and Dr. Markus Weiler of UBC to initiate development of the Tree Canopy Module. At the time we discussed the strategic importance of a long-term relationship between the University and the Water Balance Model Partnership. Well, we have made it happen thanks to Hans Schreier who has been our champion at UBC."

“Under the current project, we will explore the variables influencing the interception process and hence quantify interception of trees and bushes within an urban environment. In particular, we will focus on the effects of tree density, tree structure and tree species. This research will directly inform urban planning and will be used to populate the Water Balance Model with real data.”  

TO LEARN MORE: To read the complete story posted on the website in August 2006, click on University of British Columbia Undertakes Tree Canopy Research Project to Support Water Balance Model.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Extreme Rain Storms in American Midwest Have Doubled in Last 50 Years

Green Infrastructure Provides Greater Resiliency to Mitigate Flooding
The kind of deluges that in recent years washed out Cedar Rapids, IA, forced the Army Corps of Engineers to intentionally blow up levees to save Cairo, IL, and sent the Missouri River over its banks for hundreds of miles are part of a growing trend, according to a new report released today by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Big storms, leading to big floods, are occurring with increasing frequency in the Midwest, with incidences of the most severe downpours doubling over the last half century, the report finds.

Stephen Saunders, RMCO president and the report's lead author, said that global studies already show that human-caused climate change is driving more extreme precipitation, and now how great the increase has been in the Midwest has been documented and the extreme storms have been linked to flooding in the region. "A threshold may already have been crossed, so that major floods in the Midwest perhaps now should no longer be considered purely natural disasters but instead mixed natural/unnatural disasters. And if emissions keep going up, the forecast is for more extreme storms in the region," Saunders said.

Karen Hobbs, senior policy analyst, NRDC, and a former first deputy commissioner  for the City of Chicago’s Department of the Environment, said:  “Most of our communities were not designed to handle the volume of water dumped by these epic storms. But green infrastructure solutions, such as green roofs, street trees and rain gardens, literally capture rain where it falls, helping prevent flooding and providing communities with greater resiliency to these ferocious storms.”  

TO LEARN MORE: To download a copy of the report, click on Doubled Trouble: More Midwestern Extreme Storms.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fused Grid and Walkability get a big boost in Red Deer, Alberta

"This small park  is many things:  a safe play space, a resting spot, a social link, a rainwater absorber and a comfortable connector of streets," reports Fanis Grammenos.
“Community Planning Guidelines & Standards” let design innovation takes its course 
Getting new ideas planted on the ground needs persistence and, more importantly, co-operation among the many actors involved in the planning and building process. One broken link in the chain and innovation stalls, the Fused Grid for example.

The Fused Grid is a neighbourhood and district layout model that was developed by Fanis Grammenos. It combines the geometries of inner city grids and of the conventional suburbs. This fusion results in retaining the best characteristics of each and none of their disadvantages while raising the quality of the neighbourhood environment.

“Many developers have embraced the Fused Grid model for planning neighbourhoods and districts for its infrastructure efficiency, its ecological features and the alluring milieu it creates for residents.  Some have ventured forward and applied it, but many others, mindful of municipal policies, have shied away from it, fearing approval delays. Any delays, and particularly in hot markets, mean unwelcome production inefficiency and unexpected added costs,” states Fanis Grammenos, Director, Urban Pattern Associates and formerly a senior researcher with the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation.

“This developer unease in applying the fused grid model may soon be a thing of the past. Innovative municipal leadership in the City of Red Deer, Alberta has changed the game rules. In their revised Community Planning Guidelines and Standards document the City takes a new approach. Rather than prescribing ‘preferred plans’ by means of sketches, the guidelines describe ‘preferred results’ or preferred performance.”

"There is general and strong agreement that walkability is a desirable, some say non-discretionary, attribute of a neighbourhood. The means of achieving it, however and ways of measuring are topics of vigorous debate.  Unlike the Water-Balance computer model there is no set, objective and automated way of measuring it; and the debate goes on."

"While the debate continues, rather than taking sides prematurely, the Red Deer guidelines bypass the obstacle and let design innovation take its course, as long as the objective of connectivity is accomplished. And this objective is simple: let no pedestrian backtrack on his way to a bus stop, park, school or conveniences store.  And the technique for achieving it also simple: let paths and parks complete the most direct route to a destination when streets, for whatever reason, could not. For its simplicity and benefits it has found a strong follower – the City of Saskatoon. The City has already incorporated it in new community plans."

"Conveniently, neighbourhood layouts that match this objective and the technique exists in the Fused Grid set. And as an added bonus, these layouts have already been shown through a WaterBalance analysis to offer the best chances for rainwater retention than other available alternatives." 

“The Red Deer innovation combined with the Fused Grid application is a win-win proposition for developers, residents and for rainwater management. Soon other municipalities will follow this sensible, beneficial lead,” concludes Fanis Grammenos.

TO LEARN MORE:  To read articles about the Fused Grid that were posted previously on the companion website, click on these links:  
"A delightful way to reach home through a green pedestrian path which connects two streets," reports Fanis Grammenos.

The Fused Grid: A Balanced Approach to Development

The Real Future: Fusing the Best of the Past
The Fused Grid combines the geometries of inner city grids and conventional suburbs: the conventional loop and cul-de-sac pattern of the modern suburb and the grid pattern from the early 1900s. This fusion retains the best characteristics of each and raises the quality of the neighbourhood environment. 
The fused grid is inspired by a theme — the common space — from an 18th-century plan of Savannah, Georgia. “The city plan is organized in repeatable wards, with a square in the centre, which is visible to half of the homes in each ward”, explains Fanis Grammenos, the Canadian researcher who developed the Fused Grid. “The square is protected from heavy traffic since through streets are located at the boundaries of the ward, leaving the centre relatively calm for casual strollers.” 

TO LEARN MORE about the Fused Grid, click here to access the website created by Fanis Grammenos.  

For those who have wondered whether, traffic problems, noise, foul air and risk of injury can be reduced or eliminated in neighbourhoods, the Fused Grid website will give solutions to think about.

For those who have pondered whether neighbourhoods can regain their tranquility, can be places for pedestrians to move freely, for neighbours to socialize and for kids to play, the site offers ways to achieve these goals. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Primer on Integrated Rainwater and Groundwater Management for Lands on Vancouver Island and Beyond

Partnership Releases Guidance Document 
for Local Governments 
Released in 2008, Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan is a call to action to prepare communities for change and do business differently. Actions and targets in Living Water Smart establish expectations as to how land will be developed and water will be used. Now, the Primer on Integrated Rainwater andGroundwater Management for Lands on Vancouver Island and Beyond provides local governments with guidance for implementation of Living Water Smart principles on the ground. 

City of Parksville Demonstration Application
“Collaboration with the City of Parksville created the opportunity to inform the educational process that is part of the City’s Official Community Plan (OCP) Review. The City is a demonstration application for the Primer. The learning captured in this Primer will also be shared with other local governments on Vancouver Island. Knowledge-sharing will be facilitated through the current Inter-Regional Education Initiative. The Primer is written for expert and non-expert audiences,” reports Craig Wightman, Senior Fisheries Biologist with the BC Conservation Foundation, and a Primer co-author.

“The Primer introduces the issue of the ‘unfunded infrastructure liability’. Viewing the watershed through an asset management lens provides local governments with a driver to require that development practices mimic the Water Balance.”

“Parksville’s current OCP Review provides a great opportunity to formally recognize the value and inter-dependence of the City’s small stream and groundwater resources, and their importance to people and the region’s highly diverse fish and wildlife populations.  The term ‘livable community’ can take on new relevance in this process, and ensure Parksville remains a community of choice for residents and visitors alike.”       

LEARN MORE: The federal-provincial Regional Adaptation Collaboratives Program provided funding for Primer development. This Primer is the third in a series of guidance documents released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability since November 2011. Core concepts presented in these companion documents provide an educational foundation for rainwater management in a watershed context. To read a set of related articles, scroll down or click on these links:  

E-Blast #2012-18
May 8, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Linking Rainfall, the Landscape, Groundwater and Streamflow: Three BC Engineers Connect Dots to Stream Health

Water Balance Methodology
Released in April 2012 by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC and the Living Rivers Trust, the Primer on Integrated Rainwater and Groundwater Management for Lands on Vancouver Island and Beyond provides a science-based understanding of factors that impact on watershed and stream health, either for better or worse. Building blocks in a science-based understanding are:
  • rainfall (precipitation);
  • the ability of the landscape to absorb rainfall; 
  • movement of water through the ground; and
  • the resulting flow in streams.
These elements are part of a system that we call the Water Balance. Land development short-circuits this system when the land surface is hardened and below-ground flow paths to streams are eliminated. By describing the linkages and connecting dots, the ultimate goal of the Primer is to foster responsible decisions about use and development of land. 

Looking Rainfall and Groundwater Differently
The foundation document for the Primer is StormwaterPlanning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released by the Province in 2002.
The Primer is grounded in an approach that recognizes that engineering is the ‘art of applied science’. According to Dr. Peter Coombes of the University of Newcastle and the University of Melbourne in Australia, “Good engineering practice relies on astute observation and sound deduction. Breakthroughs in practical understanding and application happen when applied scientists ask the right questions: What are the data telling us?”  
Dr. Coombes is a recognized leader in Water Sensitive Urban Design in Australia. In September 2006, he was the keynote speaker at the Water in the City Conference, held in Victoria.
Connecting Dots: The Primer synthesizes the pioneer work of three BC engineers, namely: Kim A Stephens, Jim Dumont and Dr. Gilles Wendling. Because they looked at rainfall and groundwater differently, they were able to connect dots and develop practical applications of water balance thinking.
Looking at rainfall differently started with the UniverCIty Sustainable Community on Burnaby Mountain in Metro Vancouver. This project was the genesis for the Water Balance Methodology that links rainfall to stream health protection.
TO LEARN MORE: To download a copy of the latest BC guidance document, click on Primer on Integrated Raiinwater & Groundwater Management for Lands on Vancouver Island and Beyond.