Home > News Room > TEA in the News > U.S. green group lauds Toronto’s storm water initiatives - Toronto Star

U.S. green group lauds Toronto’s storm water initiatives - Toronto Star

November 16, 2011
David Rider
Toronto Star

A U.S. environmental group is lauding Toronto as a North American leader in reducing storm water runoff that spews pollution into lakes, floods basements and causes other costly damage.

But some of Toronto’s actions heralded by the National Resources Defense Council as ways to improve the environment and save money in the long run have been cut or scaled back since Mayor Rob Ford came to office last year.

A report released Wednesday by NDRC rated 13 U.S. cities, plus Toronto, known as leaders in employing “green” infrastructure and programs to reduce storm water runoff, and the sewage overflows it causes, and instead capture rainfall as a community-greening resource.

Rooftop to Rivers II, following on a 2006 study, ranks Toronto 8th out of the 14 cities — “a fairly good showing,” said Noah Garrison, a lawyer with the New York-based group. “Toronto has started a push for green infrastructure and is already seeing the benefits economically. We hope it continues; to do otherwise would be short-sighted.”

Initiatives noted by NDRC include Toronto’s 8-year-old Wet Weather Flow Master Plan; financial incentives for homes and businesses to build water-trapping green roofs, disconnect downspouts and capture water with rain barrels and cisterns; and expansion of the city’s tree canopy.

All will lessen Toronto’s need to build costly sewer infrastructure and raise property values in literally greener neighbourhoods, Garrison said.

Toronto could improve its ranking by establishing a dedicated funding source for green infrastructure, rather than a “pay-as-you-go” system from water and waste water fees, and a plan to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, across the city.

Emily Alfred, a researcher with Toronto Environmental Alliance, said the city is getting kudos for initiatives championed by former mayor David Miller, and largely under attack by the Ford administration.

Downspout disconnection is becoming mandatory for homes, starting in phases on Sunday with grants of up to $500 for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. But a conversion-hastening program where any resident could sign up to have the city do the job was axed earlier this year.

Alfred said the city’s bylaw requiring green roofs for new commercial, institutional and some residential homes is being weakened through exemptions, while grants to community groups for storm water management and tree planting have been cut.

The result will be, over time, more dirty water running into Lake Ontario, more city spending on infrastructure threatened by severe weather and “killing our reputation internationally as an environmental leader,” Alfred said.

As originally published here: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1087767--u-s-green-group-lauds-toronto-s-storm-water-initiatives?bn=1

2011-16-11 US green group lauds Toronto's storm water initiatives (Toronto Star).pdf18.15 KB