iWater project ended with a successful Final Conference
Integrated Stormwater Management (iWater) project held its final conference on 7–8 May 2018 in Riga and Jelgava, Latvia. iWater aims at improving urban planning by development of integrated and multifunctional stormwater management, thus creating higher quality, cleaner and safer urban environment and increasing urban sustainability. The event successfully concluded the project that has engaged over 500 stakeholders and produced several tangible outputs.
Over 60 participants attended the Final Conference representing project partners, stormwater experts, urban planners, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia as well as the Interreg Central Baltic Programme 2014–2020. The conference started with the study visit to the pilot sites in Riga and Jelgava where conceptual sustainable stormwater management solutions where developed. Participants visited new development area of Torņakalns neighbourhood in Riga and catchment area of the Svēte River basin in Jelgava. Site-specific solutions and challenges were widely discussed by participants.
“We should strongly encourage urban planning and management practices – take stormwater as a solution and added value. Integrated stormwater solutions are powerful tools in creating higher quality and more resilient urban space, and we should be collaborative and patient” says Andris Ločmanis, stormwater expert from Riga City Council.
In the iWater project all 7 city partners developed their own multifunctional stormwater management solutions based on Green Infrastructure which are now available on the project website.
The main part of the conference focused on the significant results achieved by the project consortium: Integrated Stormwater Management System, Green Factor Tool and its local adaptations, Integrated Stormwater Strategies and Integrated Stormwater Management Toolbox.
“Think positive! We share common challenges, so why not to share best solutions. International knowledge exchange tools are at your hand”
Professor Floris Boogaard from Delft University of Technology gave an inspiring speech introducing the role of stormwater management in the context of climate change adaptation and importance of cost-effective multifunctional long-term urban planning. Mr. Boogaard presented to audience examples of stormwater planning tools developed for extremely complicated hydrogeological conditions in the Netherlands, where much of the country's land is below the sea level. He also encouraged participants to share their experiences and follow existing international good practice examples.
During the seminar, Helsinki and Riga cities presented the stormwater planning tools developed and localized within the iWater project: Green Factor Tool and Green Area Planning Tool ZIPPI. The main purpose of these user-friendly and flexible planning tools is to reduce the impact of building on the urban environment and its ecosystem by maintaining sufficient green infrastructure and improving the quality of green areas. Each iWater project partner developed its own stormwater planning tool locally, with a city-specific approach and according to a local planning situation. You can find more information on the Green Factor Tool here.
In the later part of the program representatives of Söderhamn, Gävle, Tartu and Jelgava presented the integrated stormwater management process and programs developed in the project framework. Each partner city developed a tailor-made solution and established an institutional model for stormwater management.
Integrated Stormwater Management model is based on coordinated cross-sectoral cooperation and balanced allocation of responsibilities among various municipal authorities and other local stakeholders such as landowners, property developers, and private parties. All partners emphasized the importance of stakeholders’ involvement in stormwater management process in finding a common understanding and agreeing on common goals. In addition, integrated stormwater management supports the application of green and ecologically valuable urban planning principles, thus ensuring the possibility of obtaining a wider range of environmental benefits, including ecosystem services, and supporting the transition from the current dominant use of conventional stormwater discharging solutions to sustainable solutions.
The iWater Final conference provided an excellent opportunity for exchanging experiences and building capacity of urban planners by acquiring new knowledge based on the piloting of stormwater management solutions implemented in the partner cities. The iWater project demonstrated good international practice for adapting to the negative impacts of climate change. It is also a valuable example for preventing infrastructure damage and financial losses to the urban environment from rainwater flood by improving the skills of local authorities in the field of stormwater management.
Commending all the institutions involved in the implementation of the project, the Project Coordinator Nika Kotovica pointed out that the iWater project's uniqueness lays in its holistic and comprehensive approach to stormwater management. This approach addresses a number of issues related to urban sustainability: erosion prevention, air quality improvement, local climate regulation, conservation of biodiversity, improvement of public health and quality of life.