UVic researcher answers the city's call for rainwater 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. 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.”