Check-up Report: Stormwater Management in the Capital Region

Much of the infrastructure that deals with stormwater in the Capital Regional District (CRD) is in urgent need of upgrading, a problem that was highlighted in 2017 when Victoria’s annual Gorge Swimfest was cancelled caused by cross contamination of sewer and stormwater pipes. To address the ongoing stormwater quality concerns in the region, the ELC released a report this summer documenting the urgent need for law and policy reform. Prepared for the Veins of Life Watershed Society, Cleaning Up CRD Beaches and Waterways is a follow up to our original 2010 stormwater report Re-inventing Rainwater: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Nature in the Capital Region. The report reveals that while some progress has been made since 2010, there still an ongoing and urgent need to deal with law reform for stormwater management in the region.

The fact that each of the 13 municipalities in the CRD is responsible for managing its stormwater and rainwater runoff makes the problem worse. A consistent approach is required to address contaminants that flow from one municipality to the next and eventually into our waterways.

Many of the problems related to stormwater could be addressed if the CRD started managing stormwater at a watershed level. This can be done through regional growth strategies and developing a Rainwater Commission for the CRD to oversee implementation of watershed-level management on a long-term basis. Bowker’s Creek 100-year Low Impact Development plan is one example that could stand as a blueprint.

Other solutions include providing incentives for developers and homeowners to deal more effectively with stormwater runoff through low impact development methods, such as installing rain gardens, collecting rain water, or reducing the amount of impervious surface on a property.

In July, ELC students and lawyer Erin Gray presented the report to the Parks & Environment Committee of the Capital Regional District (presentation starts at 2:46 seconds). The Committee voted to ask staff to report back on ways to strengthen Capital Regional District measures to better manage stormwater, and they recommended staff to specifically consider the ELC report. 

Further presentations of the report to municipalities around the region are planned for this fall:

  • Victoria: Thursday, 14 November⋅6:30 – 7:30pm
  • Saanich Environment: Wednesday, 20 November⋅6:00 – 7:00pm
  • Esquimalt: Monday, 25 November⋅7:00 – 8:00pm