While it is nearly impossible to ascribe the cause of a single event to the broader issue of climate change, the trend is clear: an increasing number of high-intensity, short-duration (HISD) events are impacting our urban areas, exacerbating the stresses on overtaxed stormwater infrastructure. The figure highlights a series of seven recent extreme rainfall events which have struck the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
On August 10, 2012, a large storm tracked across Lake Ontario parallel to the Canadian shoreline. Situated only 15 km southeast of Mississauga, this event lasted 6.5 hours and had estimated sustained intensities of 150-200 mm/
h (see Figure). While the impacts of extreme rainfall events on urban areas cannot be ignored, the increasingly prolonged, dry inter-event periods necessitate that stormwater infiltration and percolation be maximized in order sustain base flows in support of aquatic ecosystems.
While urban flooding and extreme rainfall garner the most attention in discussions pertaining to stormwater management, it is crucial that consideration also be given to the management of our water cycle during dry periods as well. Collectively, we need to be able to manage extreme rainfall events such as the July 8, 2013 storm, combined rain and snow events such as that which caused the Bow River flood in Calgary in 2013, and extended periods of drought as occurred in southern Ontario in 2007. Drought preparedness is required if we are to sustain riverine baseflows, ensure the security of drinking water resources and optimize both water and waste water infrastructure.
As municipalities grapple with these new climate realities and their associated costs, they are rethinking how to manage stormwater using a variety of innovative solutions. The figure illustrates what has already happened in Ontario under conditions of prolonged drought. The Island Lake Reservoir, located near the Town of Orangeville, saw significant drawdown during the summer of 2007 after a period of prolonged drought.
Reliant on groundwater for its municipal supply, continued pumping by the Town led to a significant drawdown within the reservoir. This was problematic not just for the ecosystem of the Lake, but for the downstream wastewater treatment plan as well, which relies on discharges from the reservoir in order to ensure that treated effluent can safely be assimilated by the receiving watercourse.
==Concerns with projections==