Integrated Stormwater Management Plan

UBC integrates innovative stormwater management practices in planning the Vancouver campus to ensure that rain and stormwater is effectively managed on and off campus.

With approximately 5 billion litres of rain falling every year on the UBC Vancouver campus, it is important for the University to effectively manage large volumes of stormwater (rainwater that has fallen on the ground). UBC addresses this through an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP), which focuses on reducing the impacts of water flowing off campus, protecting campus assets, and incorporating a natural systems approach into the long-term planning and design of the stormwater system. The plan also includes mandatory design guidelines for all new UBC buildings to pursue LEED® credits for stormwater rate and quantity management.

Stormwater challenges

Over the last 20 years, rapid development at UBC has made it challenging for the campus stormwater system to handle increased water runoff as buildings, hard landscape features and paved roads prevent rain from being absorbed naturally into the ground. Erosion of the nearby cliffs in Point Grey, potential flooding during storms, and the quality of stormwater when it leaves campus are additional issues that need to be addressed.

UBC's approach to stormwater management

To mitigate these risks, the ISMP incorporates the natural water cycle into its approach. This uses stormwater as a resource that enhances our campus, rather than treat it as waste that needs to be removed through underground storm sewers.

By integrating innovative stormwater management practices into our campus planning and design, we can demonstrate UBC’s commitment to sustainable development.  

How UBC manages stormwater

Stormwater at UBC is used to irrigate landscaped areas, and in water features with planted vegetation that naturally cleans the water. Structures included in this approach include green roofs, cisterns and water detention basins to control water flow and promote absorption, and bioremediation and sediment control to improve water quality.

Several areas on the UBC campus illustrate our efforts to advance stormwater management approaches and systems.

Stormwater channels in Wesbrook Village (A) and rain gardens in Fairview Square and on Memorial Road (B and C).

16th Ave Discharge (A); Botanical Gardens Discharge (B); North Campus Spillway (C and D); Small discharge, Botanical Gardens (E).

Current ISMP priorities

The focus of the current ISMP is on variables that can be controlled on campus. The three main objectives under the ISMP are to:

  • reduce the flow of water off-campus;
  • reduce the impacts of stormwater flows off-campus; and
  • maintain or enhance water quality at campus boundaries so that it meets or exceeds municipal best practices.

The ISMP also intends to address many stormwater-related concerns identified in the past, including cliff erosion and poor water quality at outfalls where storm sewers empty into the ocean. It also ensures that stormwater features will be incorporated into the future planning of the campus to mitigate any impacts on water flows and quality.

The Plan

 For more information, and specific details on how stormwater is managed at UBC, please refer to the Integrated Stormwater Management Plan.