Hard surfaces, such as roads, sidewalks, and driveways, do not allow melting snow and rainwater to soak easily into soil in urban environments. Runoff flows down the street into storm drains that pour directly into our creeks and rivers. Urban development generally results in 5x or more runoff than natural spaces. This increases the volume of pollution (oil, metals, and bacteria) entering waterways and Lake Superior, which impacts water quality. Without stormwater controls, there is also a greater risk of downstream flooding. By managing our water naturally, we are helping keep our great Lake, Superior!
Green infrastructure is about naturalizing the urban landscapes. Sustainable practices can be used to help prevent pollution and protect our streams and shorelines and can be implemented at the municipal level as well as at the neighbourhood and property level. Green infrastructure encompasses a variety of water management practices, such as vegetated rooftops, roadside plantings, rain gardens, and other measures that capture, filter, and reduce stormwater.
Do you know the difference?
A storm drain, also known as a storm sewer is a drainage system designed to drain excess rain or surface water from impervious surfaces like roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, car parks and streets through underground pipes into rivers or streams. Unlike in sewer lines, storm drains drain the water without it being treated in a sewage treatment plant.
A sewer is an underground network of pipes that sit outside your property boundary, normally underneath the main road. They’re connected to buildings via drains and serve to take away all sewage and human waste to the nearest public treatment plant. Once this water has been treated and is as clean as the process can make it, it will then be discharged into a watercourse.
Just Like Nature
Green infrastructure captures the rain where it falls. It mimics natural hydrological processes and uses natural elements such as soil and plants to turn rainfall into a resource instead of a waste. It also increases the quality and quantity of local water supplies and provides other environmental, economic, and health benefits, often in nature-starved urban areas.
This sustainable infrastructure also provides economic, social, environmental, and health benefits, such as groundwater recharge, stormwater retention, reduction of sewer overflows, and improved energy efficiency, biodiversity, and marketability of buildings.
• Limits the amount of water that enters the local storm drain system
• Reduces the potential for flooding, drainage problems and stream bank erosion
• Reduces the quantity of pollutants that run from boulevards and roads straight into our waterways
• Restores and recharges our groundwater system
• Is low maintenance. They are planted with beautiful, hardy plants that require little to no watering
• Attracts birds, butterflies and beneficial insects, such as mosquito-consuming dragonflies
• Enhances the beauty of the surrounding neighbourhood
See It In Action
The City of Thunder Bay’s Green Infrastructure Sites (rain gardens) are not only beautiful and creative, they are also functional. These sites help maintain the natural water cycle while protecting local rivers, lakes, fish and drinking water sources. Check out these sites:
- Northwood Playfield Splash Pad
- James St N & Parkway Dr
- Edward St N & Parkway Dr
- Legion Track Drive
- Victoria Ave & Tarbutt St
- George Burke Park
- Winnipeg Ave & Beverly St
- Memorial Ave & High St
- Hinton Ave & Blanchard St
- Court St & MacDougall St