Integrated Stormwater Management Plan

We are developing an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP) to guide how we manage stormwater, with the goal of balancing land use with environmental concerns.

By reducing the amount of stormwater we direct into our storm sewers, we can limit stream bank erosion and flooding, improve riparian (streamside) and aquatic habitat, reduce pollution in our rivers, creeks, and streams, and improve our groundwater conditions. 

Status and progress updates

Happening now

February, 2019 — Finalizing the plan

Staff are in the process of finalizing the ISMP. The next step will be to start implementing the recommendations made in the plan, in order to meet our nine objectives.

Previously

June 20, 2017 — Framework approved by Council

Council approved an ISMP project framework with five steps and nine objectives at their workshop on June 20, 2017. You can review the framework and related Council materials in the 'Related documents and links' tab.

February, 2014 to June, 2016 — Public consultation

We obtained public input through a series of open houses, advisory group meetings, and workshops. These public sessions were held with the City of North Vancouver to coordinate efforts in shared watersheds.

How we're developing the plan

The steps we're following to create the ISMP

The ISMP will provide a roadmap of guiding principles, capital planning, and other considerations to improve watershed health, mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff, and enhance social, economic, and environmental values in our community.

To guide the development of the ISMP, we have created a five-step process that is transparent, communicates decision making, and will be continually improved over time.

Graphic of our five-step process for creating the ISMP

A closer look at our five-step process

Step 1: Identify values and problems

We will develop a systematic understanding of what we have now, how we got here, and where we want to go, using a participatory approach that merges community values and knowledge with scientific findings. 

Step 2: Define objectives and performance measures

We will identify the goals and objectives of the plan, along with performance measures. Performance measures will help us identify how to meet our objectives, how to evaluate alternative activities, and help integrate the ISMP objectives in other plans. 

Step 3: Develop and evaluate alternatives

We will identify the actions or activities that will help us reach our objectives. We will develop several alternatives for each objective, which will allow us to consider a range of solutions.

Step 4: Implement the plan

Once solutions have been evaluated, we will implement these solutions through the ISMP Implementation Plans and supporting programs. Implementation will also include the development of specific monitoring criteria and indicators which are not part of the region-wide Monitoring and Adaptation Management Plan, but are considered relevant for that watershed.

Step 5: Monitor and evaluate

We will continue to monitor and evaluate the success of the watershed implementation plan, and feed our findings back into Step 1, to continue improving the process.

The objectives of the ISMP

Environmental objectives 

  • Maximize base flows — Protect the natural environment and mitigate the impacts of changes to land use by infiltrating rainwater and holding back rainwater to mimic the natural water balance
  • Maximize fish populations — Ensure our watercourses provide food, habitat, clean water, and suitable flow
  • Maximize riparian ecosystems —  Reduce the amount of development within 45m of the high water level, plant native vegetation (including trees), and remove invasive species

Social objectives

  • Maximize social-ecological connection — Increase education and awareness of the services provided by our watersheds
  • Maximize sense of safety and security — Consider designs and standards that minimize risks to our community caused by hazards such as peak flows and water contamination
  • Minimize impacts on First Nation traditional use activities — Ensure that our communities can sustain and enhance our cultures by caring for the waters together

Economic objectives

  • Maximize natural assets — Recognize our natural assets and encourage green design, to minimize negative ecological impacts from development
  • Minimize damage to infrastructure — Understand how and where hazards such as peak flows and erosion can impact our infrastructure, and consider tiered design standards that serve multiple risk levels in a cost effective manner
  • Minimize institutional costs and conflict — Align expectations across local, regional, provincial, and federal partners, and ensure standards do not conflict 

Project values

To ensure the ISMP is built on a holistic, value-based foundation, we are integrating the vision and values of all stakeholders:

Environmental values

  • Protect and restore environmentally sensitive and vulnerable areas
  • Preserve the environment and ecosystem functions
  • Integrate climate change adaptation into decision-making
  • Promote environmental stewardship within our communities and organizations

Cultural, spiritual, and social values

  • Promote human connections to land and water
  • Promote health and wellness
  • Respect and protect indigenous cultural heritage
  • Reduce the risk of property damage

Economic values

  • Maintain a strong economy and employment opportunities
  • Support economic development opportunities
  • Integrate efficiency, feasibility, and acceptability into decision-making

Examples of ISMP tactics in action

Though not yet formalized, ISMP best practices are already being incorporated into many of our capital works and operations programs. This is because they often align with practical social, economic, and environmental processes.

Stormwater management at the new Keith Road bridge

A traditional 'pipe-and-convey' stormwater approach collects and directs rainwater through a network of curbs, gutters, and pipes, sending the stormwater into nearby creeks, streams, and other watercourses.

This approach can result in significant impacts to watershed health, including erosion, degradation of fish habitat, and deterioration of water quality.

So, when designing the new Keith Road bridge, we included bioswales and other green infrastructure, such as flat curbs and catchbasin dispersion drains, to capture, detain, and infiltrate rainwater, to simulate natural watershed conditions, to reduce impacts to watersheds.

Additionally, we took this opportunity to enhance the riparian area along Lynn Creek in the vicinity of the bridge.

Here are examples of some of these techniques:

Bioswale 

A bioswale is a landscaped area that collects, slows down, and filters stormwater. At Keith Road bridge, the bioswale removes road pollutants — which improves the water quality in Lynn Creek — and allows more of the stormwater to soak into the ground.

Image of a bioswale along Keith Road bridge
A bioswale alongside Keith Road bridge helps improve water quality in Lynn Creek

Flat curbs

A flat curb allows water to run off paved surfaces and onto natural surfaces, such as stones and grass. This slows down the water and allows it to soak into the soil, while filtering out some pollutants. Flat curbs were used in the new parking lot at Bridgman Park. 

Image of a flat curb in a park, used to manage stormwater flow
A flat curb used in the parking lot at Bridgman Park helps water soak into the soil, filtering out pollutants

Catchbasin dispersion drains

Catchbasins collect runoff from paved surfaces that have curbs and gutters. Including a dispersion drain allows water to soak into the ground below the catchbasin. Once the ground is saturated, water enters an overflow and flows into the piped system.

Riparian zone protection

A riparian zone is the interface between land and a river, creek, or stream. At Bridgman and Seylynn Parks, we protected this valuable wildlife habitat by relocating creekside walking trails 15m from the creek, restoring creek banks along the decommissioned trails, installing 950m of new cedar fencing to reduce erosion on streambanks, and replacing invasive plant species with native plants. 

A photo of riparian zone protective fencing in Bridgman Park
Cedar fencing protecting the sensitive riparian areas in Bridgman Park along Keith Road bridge

Replanting

Vegetation in riparian zones helps fish and the aquatic ecosystem by providing shade to keep water cooler, creating habitat for fish to hide in, promoting vegetation growth to provide nutrients, and providing erosion protection with root structures. As part of the Keith Road bridge project, we planted more than 465 trees and 19,000 shrubs to restore the understory and riparian habitat.

Native plants along the riparian area adjacent to Keith Road bridge
More than 465 native trees and 19,000 native shrubs were planted to restore the understory and riparian habitat

General riparian protection across the DNV

 ISMPs are not just focussed on stormwater and fish. A watershed is an entire complex of water, soil, and vegetation that provides life for many species. Here are some of the steps we take to monitor and improve the health of watersheds across the District.

Frequent inspection

We have a number of staff that routinely inspect and monitor the wildlife using our riparian corridors and green belts. 

Staff monitoring a riparian area
A member of our environmental team monitoring wildlife in a riparian area

Monitoring water quality

As part of our ISMP water quality program, we have purchased state of the art equipment that we use to monitor water quality. 

Streams and storm sewers are part of an established program to collect data from strategic points within a watershed. The data collected is used to inform decision making regarding land use, operations, and pollution prevention.

DNV staff member inspecting water quality in a stream
A member of our environmental team monitoring water quality

Sampling fish presence

Staff have started a systematic fish presence/absence sampling program. 

Under permits issued by the province, environment staff are using minnow traps to sample fish presence, species and age class across all the DNV watersheds. The information gathered will be used to monitor watershed health and to guide important discussion around land use and capital projects.

A tool for measuring fish health in our creeks
We sample fish presence across all watersheds as a way to monitor overall watershed health

Related documents and links

Council materials

June 20, 2017 — Framework approved by Council

Staff presented the framework for developing the ISMP to Council, who voted to endorse it.

Public involvement

More information about stormwater management

Background

Why an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan?

In developed areas, solid surfaces such as pavement and roofs prevent rain from naturally soaking into the ground. When rain is prevented from soaking into the ground, it flows overland and is collected in drainage infrastructure, where it's directed to local rivers, streams, and creeks, and eventually, to the ocean.

This overland flow is called stormwater runoff, and as we continue to increase the amount of impervious surface in our communities through development and other changes in land use, we increase the amount of stormwater runoff, decrease the recharge of groundwater, and impact how fast the stormwater flows and the amount of pollutants it picks up along the way.

The traditional approach to dealing with stormwater — piping it as quickly as possible to natural streams or the sea — has led to a number of negative impacts, including:

  • stream bank erosion and flooding
  • toxic pollution in watercourses
  • ecological damage and habitat loss
  • expensive drainage sewer upgrades and maintenance
  • insufficient groundwater supply to support stream base flow requirements

About stormwater management planning in BC

Integrated Stormwater Management Planning (ISMP) was first envisioned in British Columbia in the 1990s to address degradation of watershed and health caused by land development in previously undeveloped watersheds.

This degradation commonly took the form of loss of fish and fish habitat in streams due to removal of forests and development of impervious landscapes.

The concept of ISMPs were formalized in the early 2000s with both the Province and the Greater Vancouver Regional District (Metro Vancouver) creating guidelines to assist in the creation of plans.  

At the same time, the Province mandated that all member municipalities prepare ISMPs for watersheds where there was substantial, planned or existing development.