Rainwater research / Recherche sur l’eau de pluie

At the University of Victoria, the Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization unit (RPKM) is a campus and community-wide portal to support the development of transformative research. We bring outstanding researchers together with community partners to co-create knowledge for action –knowledge that is mobilized to improve the social, cultural and economic well-being of communities throughout our region and around the globe.  Here’s a look at some of our projects with community partners in 2014.
À l’Université de Victoria, l’unité Partenariats en recherche et Mobilisation des connaissances (Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization unit, RPKM) est un portail ouvert aux gens du campus et de la communauté, destiné à soutenir et à renforcer la recherche transformatrice. Nous réunissons des chercheurs exceptionnels et des partenaires de la communauté afin qu’ils créent ensemble un savoir en action – un savoir mobilisé dans le but d’améliorer le bien-être social, culturel et économique des collectivités de notre région et du monde entier. Voici quelques-uns des projets en cours en 2014.

UVic grad student Catherine Orr
Graduate student Catherine Orr working with students during construction of the rain garden at Oak & Orca Bioregional School

UVic researcher answers the city’s call for rainwater management solutions.
With Victoria’s changing climate of wetter winters and more frequent, more intense storms, rain gardens will play an increasingly important role in keeping our water clean and managing the flow of rain in our community. For this reason, the City of Victoria has partnered with environmental studies master’s student Catherine Orr to find better ways of managing our city’s rainwater.
Working under the supervision of Dr. Valentin Schaefer in UVic’s Department of Environmental Studies, Orr has constructed a rain garden on the campus of Victoria’s Oak and Orca Bioregional School.
The rainwater system runs nearly the entire length of the school site and is designed to manage the majority of rain that falls during the year, using gravity to collect water on the roof and disperse it through an educational play feature into a native plant rain garden.
In addition to the City of Victoria, this research was supported by several other community organizations. The Real Estate Foundation, Vancity, and Mitacs helped fund the construction of the site, while the Capital Regional District donated soil and plants and Murdoch De Greeff Inc.’s landscape architects provided professional design input.
Orr’s research will lead to new knowledge of rain garden systems that will help the city develop improved rainwater guidelines and eventually construct more rain gardens in other locations, providing a healthier, more sustainable alternative to the city’s storm drains. “We need to treat rainwater better in cities,” says Orr. “We have this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude towards rainwater… [but] the city is a place where natural systems don’t stop happening.”