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By Kim A Stephens Peng


There is a logical link between changes in hydrology and impacts on watershed health, whether those impacts are in the form of flooding or aquatic habitat degradation. The link is the volume of surface runoff that is created by human activities as the result of alteration of the natural landscape (i.e., through removal of soils, vegetation and trees). When trees, vegetation and soils are replaced by roads and buildings, less rainfall infiltrates into the ground or is taken up by vegetation, which results in more rainfall becoming surface runoff. The key to protecting urban watershed health is to maintain the water balance as close to the natural condition as is achievable and feasible by preserving and/or restoring soils, vegetation and trees. But accomplishing this requires major changes in the way we approach urban drainage and in the way we develop land. Drainage engineers have traditionally thought of reconciling pre- and post-development runoff in terms of flow rates, not volumes. At the site level, however, we need to focus on how much rainfall volume has fallen, how to capture the excess, and what to do with it. The Province of British Columbia in the Pacific Northwest is leading the way in North America in developing and implementing innovative criteria and methodologies for reducing excess runoff volumes at the source, where rain falls. Science-based performance objectives and targets have been established to mimic the hydrology of a natura

Year: 2011
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