The project will first be tested at the new fire hall on 93rd and 93rd, which Program Coordinator Karen Mason-Bennett says is a perfect spot due to the drainage system already designed on the property. The idea is to have rain or snow melt water used on-site, instead of dumping it into the City’s storm system. 

“If you see a really heavy rain event like we had a couple years ago, there was a lot of flooding, and a lot of that just overwhelmed the infrastructure that we have,” she explains. “So if we’re able to kind of catch some of that water and then release it slowly over the next 24 to 72 hours to a week, it would be even better so it’s not even entering the system at all.

That water could also be used for landscaping instead of the municipal stores. Plants on top of the system will filter the water, so if it does make it to the sewer system, it will be cleaner than it was when it first entered.

Scott Selin, Branch Manager for RBC in Fort St. John, says the project was a natural choice for the grant, as it could help ensure clean water in Fort St. John “for generations”. 

“Their catch and release program will go a long way for helping manage storm water in Fort St. John,” he says. “Storm water management is an important part of water stewardship and we all need fresh water. Our survival also depends on it.” 

Eventually NEAT would like to see this project turn into recommendations for building codes in northern communities for both commercial and residential buildings. Mason-Bennett points to the Totem Mall as a prime example of a property that could benefit from better water management. 

“We’ll have a couple workshops as we go kind of explaining what exactly this is and how you can incorporate it into your own situation, but also why it’s so important.”

It’s hoped everything will be up and running by the end of the summer, to be monitored through the following year.