In a recent study, researchers at UBC Okanagan’s Life Cycle Management Laboratory compared how different jurisdictions are handling LID implementation. The researchers found that the guidelines and approaches to implement LID vary from one province to another and one municipality to another. Some have embraced LID, while others have not.
In particular, the study found that Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have embraced alternative technologies for stormwater management while New Brunswick and the three northern territories continue to lag behind.
“Urbanization has pushed those four provinces to act while the late-adopters have some time to establish their own approaches,” said Sadia Ishaq, a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus and the study’s lead author. “Whether it is the Far North or the Maritimes, government leaders need to ensure they are taking appropriate action to balance development with sustainable water management.”
The ultimate goal of the investigation was to establish a decision-making tool for governments to help them incorporate LID into their urban planning as a way to address water management needs.
LID refers to site design practices that reduce the impact of water runoff. Contrary to traditional systems, LID tries to mimic the natural water cycle in urban settings and helps to harvest rainwater or snowmelt as well as to remove pollutants.
“Canadian stormwater management systems are facing challenges around every corner from climate change to aging infrastructure,” said Rehan Sadiq, an engineering professor at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus and the study’s co-author. “When you add urbanization to the mix, governments need to decide what approach they wish to take when it comes to LIDs or otherwise face potentially dire consequences.”
Although the study highlights the positive impact of LID, it also points out that more research is needed to determine the potential health risks of these systems on the public. Specifically, the microbial quality of storm runoff in urban areas.
“This type of sustainable infrastructure design can be enormously beneficial as communities grapple with aging infrastructure and a changing climate, said Ishaq. “This analysis can help promote the LIDs and extend their benefits as urban planners prepare our cities for the future.”
The research, recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management, was supported by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.