The CRCWSC’s research is having a strong impact internationally, particularly in India, China, Indonesia, Fiji—and now Canada.
The City of Vancouver Council has formally adopted a strategic plan to become a water sensitive city. Former CRCWSC PhD student, Gemma Dunn (originally from Monash University), is now a water sustainability specialist in Vancouver and acted as an advisor consultant for the strategy.
The Rain City Strategy reimagines how Vancouver manages rainwater using green rainwater infrastructure. It sets 46 action programs to improve water quality in the natural environment, increase the resilience to climate change, and enhance natural ecosystems in the city.
The two main targets are to capture (infiltrate, evapotranspirate, and/or reuse) and clean (treat) a minimum of 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall volume (long term), and manage urban rainwater runoff from 40% of impervious areas in the city by 2050.
Expanding green infrastructure to absorb and clean rainwater is therefore essential. Vancouver currently has over 240 green rainwater infrastructure assets in its streets, parks and public spaces, including a public plaza that uses a raingarden and a bioswale to manage urban rainwater runoff from 1,170 square meters of surrounding roads and sidewalks, and a blue–green roof pilot underway. The goal will be the increase this number, and to set new design standards for green rainwater infrastructure practices, doubling the minimum volume of rainwater managed through green rainwater infrastructure from 24 mm a day to 48 mm a day.
On releasing the Rain City Strategy, Vancouver City Mayor Kennedy Stewart said: ‘As residents of a coastal city in a temperate rainforest we have a deep connection to water in all its forms. However, as we grapple with climate change and Vancouver continues to grow in the decades to come, charting a new course for the way we manage rainwater will be vital.’
Another Rain City Strategy goal is to better manage water accumulation during extreme rainfall to reduce flooding and improve water quality, moving towards the city’s overall goal of capturing and treating 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall.
The Rain City Strategy supports Vancouver’s new One Water approach, which is ensuring local communities and ecosystems thrive into the future, by looking at the full water cycle in all its forms: drinking water, wastewater, rainwater, surface water, and groundwater.
‘I see this as a game-changer in Canada, as people begin to recognise and empower water’s role in enabling resilience, liveability and equity. It’s been really exciting to see Vancouver transform the way it values, plans and uses water, and I hope it is just the first of many Canadian municipalities to embark on this critically important journey,’ said Gemma Dunn.
We send our heartful congratulations to the City of Vancouver and to our former PhD Gemma Dunn on this incredible milestone.
About Gemma Dunn
Gemma commenced her PhD with the CRCWSC in June 2014 and completed in May 2018. Her PhD thesis was titled, Mediating the science-policy nexus: Connecting scientific knowledge with urban water policy and practice. She worked mostly in our Program A4.1 and was supervised by Rebekah Brown, Annette Bos and Karen Bakker. She now runs her own consulting firm, Uisce (Ishka) Consulting International, in Vancouver .