Vancouver overhauls sewer and stormwater plan to address extreme weather

The City of Vancouver is embarking on a once-in-a-generation project, developing the Healthy Waters Plan for British Columbia’s largest city. Photo by Robert Pennings/courtesy Brown and Caldwell

The City of Vancouver is embarking on a once-in-a-generation project, developing the Healthy Waters Plan for British Columbia’s largest city.

A team of planners, engineers, and public engagement specialists by Brown and Caldwell has been engaged in this plan, Adapting and Integrating Sewage & Rainwater Management in Vancouver.

The two-part plan aims to guide policy, regulation, advocacy, and long-range investments in Vancouver’s sewer and stormwater management while supporting equity for all citizens and reconciliation with Indigenous communities. It will leverage Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy to integrate rainwater and sewer infrastructure policies, projects, and programs using a one water approach to find the right balance of green and grey infrastructure for increased water quality benefits based on scientific analysis and community values.

The project team will catalogue the current system understanding and knowledge gaps, in particular the extent and causes of combined sewer overflows and the associated impacts on receiving water bodies. This assessment will make recommendations to the city’s approach to pollution management and the development of a Priority Action Plan, including proposals to enhance biodiversity and achieve accelerated water quality outcomes via natural systems. Additionally, a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process will be developed to bring partners, stakeholders, and the community into the decision-making process to set Vancouver on a path towards a more equitable future.

The city provides sewage and drainage services to homes and businesses, managing over 2000 km (1243 mi) of underground storm, sanitary, and combined pipes, 45,000 stormwater catch basins, more than 100,000 service connections, and 25 pump stations.

With part one recently underway, the plan is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2024.

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