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Vancouver hopes to eventually recapture, clean 90% of all rainwater

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If approved, Vancouver plan to recapture and clean rainwater would take decades to fully implement

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver could take a big step forward tomorrow in its goal of becoming the greenest city by 2020.

Council will vote on whether to adopt an ambitious plan that will eventually lead to recapturing most of the rainwater.

The plan calls for the city to recapture and clean 90 per cent of that water that falls on both public and private land using different green technology, says Brian Crowe with the city’s engineering department.

“Tools like rain gardens, permeable pavements, green roofs, constructed wetlands in parks like we have now in Hinge Park in False Creek — all these different tools that apply to different parts of the city,” says Crowe.

He says most of those tools are already being used in small-scale pilot projects and have shown a lot of promise, like the permeable pavement stones.

“They don’t look much different to people but they have a little gap between each paver and they have an absorbent gravel bedding under them so the rain doesn’t just flow off them in a sheet, it actually absorbs (back into the water table) through the gaps. We use that in a few places throughout the city. It’s shown to be very effective,” says Crowe.

If approved tomorrow, the plan itself would take decades to fully implement, replacing infrastructure once it’s worn out over time.

“It will basically allow you to absorb and or basically naturally filter the rainwater as it lands on the urban environment,” says Crowe.

The plan calls for using green infrastructure to treat urban runoff before it enters the traditional sewer system.

It will also help reduce combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer backups in areas where the sanitary and storm sewers haven’t been separated.

That will help with everything from keeping contaminants from leeching into groundwater to conserving water during hot weather.

Crowe points to Philadelphia and Chicago as leaders when it comes to green infrastructure.