Water: The Ponds, Streams, Culverts and Pipes
The following is a transcript of notes taken from a
at the October 30th "Your City, Your Ideas" dialogue session.
Convenor: K. Parewick
Number of Participants: 7
Summary of Discussions:
Session participants noted instances of new development believed to be connected to additional water flows and flooding where it never used to occur (i.e. Winter Avenue, Rennie's River). This was characterized as a "last ten years" phenomenon. As a startpoint towards an alternative vision, consensus was expressed respecting the need for core development values that include natural streams, wetlands and other water bodies as key building blocks: historically, urban development here has undone these working systems.
Discussion occurred regarding what some had observed as apparent infilling to one side of Burton's Pond; it was believed that this ongoing construction activity was part of a recently launched slate of Memorial University campus 'green' initiatives. To find out more about these activities, it was suggested that Happy City follow-up with MUN's new Facilities Manager - an architect recently moved here from New Brunswick and bringing with him a wealth of sustainable design expertise.
St. John's city infrastructure engineering was characterized as speeding water flows and was contrasted with Mount Pearl's water retention-oriented practices. "Two engineering departments, two very different approaches…". Reference was made to the digging up of Kelly's Brook. In returning to the theme of area development negatively influencing changes in the water table, the West End Fire Station (LeMarchant Road), Grace Hospital site, and Victoria Park (Bennett's Brook) were all referred to in relation to known downstream flood corridors. It was felt that clear mapping of all the city's underground waterways should be made available for public viewing.
Water consumption issues were flagged. Huge problems were said to exist with municipal water system pipe leakage, believed to stand at roughly 50%. It was noted that average system leakage is in the order of 15% with the best (Singapore?) being around 5%. Session participants suggested that poor quality pipe is a large part of the problem and is attributable to tendering processes that don't pay enough attention to this aspect of system specifications.
It was noted that the St. John's water system is particularly wasteful in that we are treating all of the water that flows at source and most all of it again as sewage. With reference to the visit that week of Dr. Kimberly Grey, alternatives were noted including split-streaming of water (i.e. "purple pipe" systems) and cisterns capturing rooftop rainfall flows (i.e. Belgian example cited along with others in use elsewhere) and/or household greywater for use in gardens and carwashing. Participants agreed that every household should have a rainbarrel and that the City should determine a means to support this (i.e. tax credit? Subsidy?)
What will we do now? What needs to happen next?
Create the culverted rivers/underground stream inventory map discussed above.
Implement a City-wide program to ensure cistern/rainbarrels are accessible and affordable for all.
Rehabilitate, revive and otherwise maintain natural river systems for flood control and natural ecosystem values.
Follow-up with MUN Facilities Manager to find out more about sustainable campus infrastructure plans.