Stricter rules for construction site runoff, along with technology, are combining to make it easier to maintain the health of Coquitlam waterways. When silt and mud collect in streambeds, the habitat and food sources of fish and invertebrates get covered up. Bylaws like Coquitlam’s, which controls drainage and soil run-off, are part of the region-wide goal to protect waterways. See how contractors are using rain gauges to stay in compliance with local bylaws and protect habitat.
It looks a bit like a small coffee pot, but it’s actually an Internet-connected rain gauge showing exactly how much rain is falling each hour in northeast Coquitlam.
“Once a certain amount of rain falls, there’s different requirements that the developers, contractors, builders, environmental monitors have to follow,” explains Bela Piocza Environmental Officer for the City of Coquitlam. “So the city took upon itself to install a rain gauge.”
The allowable amount of silt in the run-off changes during different amounts of rain.
“Without them knowing how much rain has fallen, they wouldn’t know what they could discharge,” says Piozca.
The rain gauge is especially useful in guiding crews during heavy rainfalls.
They might take it upon themselves to do a proactive weather shutdown notes Piozca.
“Driving on site can create a lot of sediment and erosion, so they might still work on site but just not heavy hauling and trucks leaving the site. Within 48 hours after the rain has ceased from being a significant rain event we ask them to do another report to see how the site fared. It’s sort of like a check.”
It’s part of the stream protection bylaw Coquitlam approved in fall 2013, which aims to provide for better accountability by developers and a broader range of enforcement tools for Coquitlam city staff. A federally operated gauge also provides daily Coquitlam rainfall data, but for the development in the upper -and wetter- areas of Burke Mountain, this real-time rain gauge is important.
Industry standards such as mud mats, rock mulch and barrier berms are outlined in a Best Management Practices guide that developers can access online.