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Stormwater Culvert, Armstrong
Stormwater consists of rainwater and other sources of water that "runs off" impervious surfaces such as paved roads, parking lots and building rooftops. Rain falling on impervious surfaces cannot infiltrate the ground and is typically channeled into storm sewers and watercourses.

As stormwater runs off urban areas, it can gather pollutants such as oil, pesticides and other contaminants that can have an adverse effect downstream. The "non-point source" water pollution in stormwater runoff is the most common cause of poor water quality in urban lakes and streams.

The objective of traditional drainage planning is to prevent flooding by draining stormwater as quickly as possible from developed areas. This approach results in an increase in the volume and flow rate of surface runoff, causing excessive erosion and habitat degradation in the receiving streams. Urbanization has changed the natural hydrology of watersheds, resulting in channel instability, low summer flows, and altered stream morphology. The cumulative effects of these changes impacts the integrity and diversity of aquatic ecosystems.

Given the impacts of conventional stormwater management practices, protecting the health of urban watercourses clearly requires a different approach.

Integrated Stormwater Management

The science of stormwater management is evolving and has broadened from the traditional engineering approach to one that integrates hydrologic and environmental concerns. Integrated stormwater management planning is a comprehensive approach to rainwater management that plans for a range of rainfall events, not just large storm events. One of the guiding principles of an integrated strategy is that:
  • rain from frequent small events be allowed to infiltrate the ground,
  • runoff from heavy events should be retained and slowly released,
  • runoff from extreme storms should be managed to prevent flooding.

Integrated stormwater management plans can be used to meet the stormwater component of a Liquid Waste Management Plan. Stormwater management objectives can be integrated into local government land use planning and decision-making by incorporating them into the vision and goals of the Official Community Plan.


Stormwater Management Facilities

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Victoria - Stormwater
Rehabilitation System
A comprehensive watershed management plan should incorporate innovative "design with nature" features and other elements that mimic and/or support natural processes. For example, instead of conveying flows directly to waterways, constructed wetlands and other beneficial features can be incorporated into developments so that more stormwater runoff can infiltrate soil and recharge groundwater aquifers.

Using design techniques that take advantage of ecological and hydrological processes allows communities to meet flood prevention objectives and preserve or enhance the health of aquatic and riparian ecosystems. The Greater Vancouver Regional District has developed Stormwater Source Control Design Guidelines to promote innovative designs that can be incorporated into new or existing developments such as:

Funding for Stormwater Management

Those local governments considering undertaking integrated stormwater management plans or related feasibility studies are eligible to receive funding up to $10,000 from the Local Government Department's Infrastructure Planning Grant Program. Joint initiatives that encourage innovation and capacity building in local government planning and decision-making may be eligible to receive funding from the Smart Development Partnership Program. The Department's Capital Grant Programs and other grants can assist communities in developing low impact infrastructure.

The Department's grant programs have funded such projects as:


Stormwater Management Resources

Local governments can use a range of regulatory tools to support integrated stormwater management practices. The Local Government Act gives municipalities the authority to implement stormwater solutions such as:
  • bylaws that limit impervious surfaces and encourage infiltration;
  • alternative low impact subdivision bylaw standards;
  • bylaws that prevent the release of contaminants into stormdrains;
  • watercourse setback zoning bylaws; and,
  • development permit areas that protect watercourses and floodplains.

Implementation of integrated stormwater management can be accelerated by applying the practices, designs and strategies contained in the following documents:


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