Helping design better systems for stormwater management

In 2019, CSA Group launched its Graduate Scholarship Program to support students enrolled in a Master’s program whose research is related to standards. In this series, we would like to introduce the five students who have been awarded the 2020 scholarship and tell you how their research has the potential to impact standards, as well as their professional growth in the standards world.

CSA Graduate Scholarship Recipient – Véronique GuayWith our cities constantly growing and expanding, more and more spaces are being covered with concrete. Surfaces that are impenetrable to rainwater, combined with the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, can result in the overloading of stormwater systems not designed to handle such water quantities. In addition, more stringent water quality requirements make stormwater management even more complex.

To solve these challenges, municipal engineers are increasingly embracing green infrastructure. Such infrastructure leverages the abilities of plants to retain and filter water, improves water quality, and helps control peak flows and runoff volumes. For optimal performance of green infrastructure, engineers must know how much water the green space will need to handle. This parameter is called a ‘design rainfall’ and is calculated based on rainfall intensity and historical patterns in the specific region.

Defining ‘design rainfall’ is a complex task. But that makes it only more interesting for Véronique Guay, a Master’s student at the INRS Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre. And she is set to make this task easier.

Based on the analysis of historical rainfall data from different cities, Véronique wants to determine the most frequent rainfall patterns for these regions. This will allow her to develop a methodology for defining the ‘design rainfall’ parameter most suitable for the objectives of a specific green infrastructure project. Applying the method to real sites, Véronique will also explore the impact of the design rainfall selection on the green infrastructure performance from both hydrological and water quality perspectives.

“Before applying for the CSA Group Graduate Scholarship, I did not know much about standards development. Now I understand how CSA committees are created using balanced matrices so that no single group interest outweighs the others. And it is a much more dynamic process than I realized, requiring many discussions and reaching a consensus.”

– Véronique Guay, Master’s Student, Institut national de la recherche scientifique

Véronique hopes the results of her research will help improve standards in the future. CSA W200-18, Design of bioretention systems provides guidance for introducing green infrastructure. However, as Véronique’s Master thesis supervisor, Dr. Sophie Duchesne, points out, there are no standards yet for selecting the total height, intensity, and temporal distribution of the design rainfall for these projects.

Dr. Duchesne believes that Véronique’s work can help with that. Making the selection of design rainfall easier and more accurate could help optimize the size of the green spaces and choose the ideal type of vegetation. A design rainfall value, calculated based on the local conditions, could also help design other types of infrastructure for stormwater management.

Most of the current stormwater-related standards are focused on the design of pipes. Our research work may help to improve the existing standard on bioretention, giving municipal engineers more accurate inputs for stormwater management systems design.”

– Dr. Sophie Duchesne, Professor, Institut national de la recherche scientifique

As Véronique progresses with her work, she is also gaining a new appreciation for standards. At first, she was excited about the opportunity to access the standards on bioretention and stormwater management related to her research. Now she also understands the process of standards development and how the technical committees bring together different stakeholder groups to achieve a balanced representation of all perspectives.

Learn more about CSA Group’s Graduate Scholarship Program.


May 6, 2021