On the premise that structural solutions to infrastructure problems generally may have negative net environmental impacts, proponents should pay particular attention to non-structural solutions in evaluating alternatives.
Such alternatives might, for example, include the imposition of controls on private development (e.g. storm water management policies which require rainwater to be discharged onto the ground rather than into a storm sewer) or controls on resource use (e.g. by-law requirements that prevent the discharge of once-through cooling water taken from municipal supplies). Land use/zoning controls, flood warning/flood proofing/emergency measures, conservation programs, are further examples of “soft” technology measures which may deserve attention.
While these types of alternatives may not be effective in providing adequate solutions to immediate or critical sewage, stormwater management or water problems, they should be given serious consideration. Where possible, they should be implemented in combination with structural measures if it can be demonstrated that they can contribute to the overall solution. For example, improved maintenance activities may allow a reduction in the size of a structural measure resulting in less environmental impact.
Consideration of such alternatives would serve to focus a municipality's responsibility for the wise management of the resources under its jurisdiction, in a manner which would avoid the development of infrastructure problems through preventative or non-structural measures.
The “Do Nothing” alternative examines what may happen if none of the alternatives under consideration are carried out, and should be considered by the proponent in all cases. The “Do Nothing” alternative assists project participants by providing a benchmark against which the consequences of the other alternatives can be measured.