Stormwater is rainwater and melted snow that runs off roads, lawns, roofs and other hard surfaces. In natural systems, when stormwater is absorbed into the ground, it is filtered and flows into streams, rivers and coastal waters or recharges groundwater. In urban areas, impervious surfaces reduce water retention and infiltration. Instead, water runs rapidly over these hard surfaces, collecting pollutants along the way, and flows into storm drains and sewer systems. Urban runoff can contain fertilizers, oil, dirt, garbage and other contaminants, which impacts water quality in the receiving water bodies. In areas with combined storm and waste water sewers, the combined system can become overloaded and lead to untreated sewage being directly released. Stormwater runoff is not only harmful to aquatic habitat and species, but can also impact human health, increase erosion and flooding and cause damage to infrastructure and property.
Changes in the amounts and intensity of precipitation events associated with climate change along with aging infrastructure and an expanding area of impervious surfaces in most cities make managing stormwater a critical issue. In the coming months, we will be exploring alternative solutions for homeowners, contractors and municipalities to effectively manage stormwater and we will be sharing what we learn along the way on this blog.
Over the summer of 2012, we will be retrofitting an existing building in Halifax with a range of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) to showcase how different tools can retain water and reduce the amount of stormwater runoff entering our sewage system. We will be documenting the stormwater retrofit every step of the way, and updating this site regularly with photos, videos. We encourage you to share your thoughts, concerns, and experiences with us, so we can learn from each other and address these issues together.
Keep checking in for updates.