Adapting to climate change: A green approach to managing stormwater

November 12, 2019

Making communities more resilient is part of our purpose. One way we do that is by helping Canadians adapt to climate change by partnering with charities that are implementing practical solutions to help protect people from extreme weather. This is the second in a series about how our Intact Adaptation Action Grant partners are helping people. Did you miss the first story? Read it here.

On a sunny weekend in late August, more than 40 volunteers in Shelbourne, N.S., helped install a vegetated buffer to protect the town’s coastline from flooding and erosion.

The plants in the vegetated buffer absorb stormwater and increase the stability of the soil along the coast. The structural elements of the buffer —logs, brush and haybales — help protect the plants and slow the flow of stormwater runoff.

The initiative is part of Coastal Action’s Stormwater Project, a series of small-scale, nature-based infrastructure projects that will help Nova Scotian communities reduce flooding. This innovative approach to stormwater management was funded by the Intact Adaptation Action Grants.

“As we pave our cities, there are fewer places where water can be absorbed into the ground, increasing the volume and speed of runoff. This increases erosion, damages habitats, pollutes surrounding watersheds and causes flooding,” says Samantha Battaglia, Coastal Action’s Stormwater Management Project Coordinator.

The projects – mostly rain gardens, bioswales and vegetated buffers – use soil and plants to slow, collect and filter stormwater.

Hurricane Dorian a stark reminder

Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall in eastern Canada in September, is a stark reminder of the impact of climate change on coastal communities. More than 100 mm of rain fell in less than 24 hours and winds of up to 150 km/h left 500,000 people powerless. In the end, the storm caused $105 million in insured damage in Quebec and the Maritimes.

But it’s not just hurricanes that are the problem. “We’re seeing more frequent and more severe storms of all kinds,” says Samantha.

Which is why the work Coastal Action is doing is so important to help protect people from these storms. To date, Coastal Action has installed 25 projects in seven municipalities in southwest Nova Scotia. That includes planting more than 1,000 native plants to help divert more than 2,500m3 of stormwater runoff every year.

Not only does diverting stormwater help reduce flooding, it also prevents harmful contaminants from ending up in local waterways.

Do you work for a charity that's helping protect Canadians from extreme weather? Our charity granting program is officially open and we’re looking for partners who want to work with us to build a more climate-resilient Canada. Visit our website to learn more about how to apply.