Suddenly, it seems, the world is catching on to a bold new approach to ecological stormwater management, and Green Communities are leaders in helping make it happen. Our innovative RAIN program promotes lot level action by property owners to reduce run-off pollution.The idea is simple but effective: soak up and harvest rain where it falls, through practical, proven measures like rain gardens, rain barrels, soakaway pits, and permeable pavement.
Green stormwater infrastructure is part of the answer to the problem of urban run-off, which is escalating as impervious surfaces like roads and buildings proliferate and vegetation is reduced. In nature, only 10% of precipitation results in surface run-off; the rest is infiltrated (50%) or evaporated (40%). In an urbanized environment, run-off increases to 55% and only 15% is infiltrated.
Impacts of increased run-off include flooding and property damage, erosion, sewer overflows and back-ups, groundwater depletion, and damage to water quality and aquatic ecosystems.
Municipalities face growing stormwater infrastructure deficits – pegged at $4.7 million annually by Kitchener and Waterloo. And they get blamed for flood damage, witness the $375M class action lawsuit launched in Thunder Bay.
The increase in peak rain events accompanying climate change threatens to make things worse, as the residents of Calgary and High River know only too well.
To date we’ve delivered RAIN communities programs in nine communities, featuring demonstration projects, workshops, contractor training, home visits, media and more. In the coming months we will consult with municipalities and others about working together to scale up community-wide implementation of green stormwater infrastructure. We will also be working with Green Infrastructure Ontario to shape a supportive policy environment for green stormwater infrastructure.
Our goal: nothing short of transforming the urban landscape and restoring ecological processes.
Large US cities like Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Seattle and Portland are spending millions if not hundreds of millions to implement onsite infiltration as a core element in their stormwater management strategy. Look for a similar revolution to take Canadian cities by storm, and for Green Communities Canada member organizations to play an important part in making it happen.