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What to do with water - Groups look at climate change, how to adapt to new storm water runoff realities

Samantha Hudson, second from left, planted trees and created rain gardens in a project called ‘Soaking up Stormwater’ that was a partnership between Clean Annapolis River Project and the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation. The partnership continues with a new project called ‘Managing Water in Response to a Changing Climate in Southwest Nova Scotia.’ It will involve communities, businesses, and students and will help make water management and conservation second nature.
Samantha Hudson, second from left, planted trees and created rain gardens in a project called ‘Soaking up Stormwater’ that was a partnership between Clean Annapolis River Project and the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation. The partnership continues with a new project called ‘Managing Water in Response to a Changing Climate in Southwest Nova Scotia.’ It will involve communities, businesses, and students and will help make water management and conservation second nature. - Contributed

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S. - Residents of southwest Nova Scotia can learn how to manage water in a changing climate thanks to a collaboration between the Clean Annapolis River Project and the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation.

The groups are working together on a big project to address climate change impacts and hope to provide support to community members and local governments to help improve the management of storm water and reduce the negative environmental impacts of storm water runoff.

“It is anticipated that climate change impacts for southwest Nova Scotia will include increased frequency and severity of storm events, resulting in increased rates of surface water runoff,” said Samantha Hudson with CARP, a lead on the project called ‘Managing Water in Response to a Changing Climate in Southwest Nova Scotia.’

“It is also projected that winters will experience alternating warm and cold periods, increasing the risk of rain falling on snow and ice, preventing it from being absorbed into the ground.”

She said increased drought during the summers, paired with higher rates of evaporation, can result in overall lower ground and surface water levels in Nova Scotia.

“This creates the need for improved water conservation in summer months,” Hudson said.

And runoff can pollute nearby bodies of water with all the waste it picks up along the way – including gas, oil, sediment, and fertilizers.

Federal Funding

The project recently received $100,000 in funding from the federal government’s EcoAction Community Funding Program which supports local action to help fight and adapt to climate change as well as to educate and engage Canadians in preserving and conserving water.

Through workshops, guest presentations, school presentations, social media, and other avenues, CARP and partners will raise awareness about why storm water management and water conservation are important and provide training and capacity building opportunities as well as resources to support management and conservation implementation, Hudson said.

“We want to see planning for storm water become a norm when people are making decisions about their properties and when governments are making decisions about infrastructure,” she said.

More human development means more impermeable surfaces such as roofs, driveways, parking lots, and lawns occupying more space, which then leads to less potential for rainwater to be absorbed into the soil, Hudson said. “Loss of forest canopy cover can increase rates of surface water runoff, which may also contribute to flooding,” she added.

“Changes in precipitation regimes are an impact of climate change that all Nova Scotian’s need to respond to,” Hudson said. “By partnering with Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation, CARP will be able to help the counties of Southwest Nova Scotia make needed progress on the specific issues of storm water management and water conservation.”

Actions Planned

During the two-year project, CARP and the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation will host a series of free public seminars in each county (Kings, Digby, Yarmouth, Annapolis, Shelburne, Queens, and Lunenburg) focusing on anticipated climate change impacts on water quality and quantity in the area and actions individuals can take to mitigate these impacts.

They will also conduct guest workshops for local garden groups focusing on the importance of rain gardens and storm water management.

And a free home assessment program will be developed and implemented, conducting comprehensive surveys on 120 properties. The surveys will focus on water consumption in each household and possible conservation options, and storm water issues and possible management options through tailored ‘Property Assessment Reports’ provided back to the homeowners. The project is currently seeking interested homeowners to take part.

Hudson said the project will also partner with local businesses to install large rainwater collection systems of 1,000 litres – focusing on nurseries for maximum benefit and usage of harvested rainwater.

“Signs will also be installed at the sites and they will act as public demonstration sites to visit in the future, whether it is students, members of the public, (or) clients,” she said.

Three other public demonstration sites involving rain garden construction near impermeable surfaces will be located in Middleton, Digby, and the South Shore. In a previous project by the two groups called ‘Soaking up Stormwater,’ they created six rain gardens designed to soak water before it was able to damage bodies of water or flood infrastructure.

Students Involved

CARP and BCAF will also work with students.

“A water management project will be developed for elementary school students to do at home,” Hudson said. “This project will involve having students conduct home water assessments in their households and share the results with their classmates to explore common trends and options for water conservation and storm water management.”

She said one of the hopes they have with the project is that it will help make storm water management a more regular practice for private homeowners as well as local governments and their staff.

“Ideally it is at the planning and design phase of infrastructure projects (such as roads, new or resurfaced parking lots, new buildings) that considerations are made for how to best manage water in order to reduce the potential negative impacts of storm water and consider how water conservation practices can be incorporated.”

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