The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is recognized for the leadership that its Drinking Water & Watershed Program is providing. Success is helping to foster a new ‘land ethic’ among land and water practitioners in the region. Bill Veenhof (photo), RDN Chair, thanked the Partnership’s Kim Stephens for providing the RDN Board with an appreciation of how the RDN program is helping other regions overcome the disconnect between information and implementation.
Reflections on the 2015 Drought: “The key now is how we take the 2015 teachable year and build on it in terms of where we go with the new Water Sustainability Act,” stated Kim Stephens when interviewed by Kirk LaPointe on Roundhouse Radio
“In British Columbia, we don’t prescribe. We encourage shared responsibility. Prescribing just doesn’t seem to work. We seem to have to get to a critical mass where people realize that we have to do something,” stated Kim Stephens. “The last ‘teachable year’ was 2003. That set in motion a process that culminated with the adoption in 2014 of the Water Sustainability Act.”
“The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is drought and flooding. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. This is putting water supply systems and ecosystems under extreme stress,” says Kim Stephens. “What you do on the land or how you treat the land has direct implications and consequences for water use.”
“In other regions, notably California, they think of droughts in terms of number of years. In the Georgia Basin (Southwest BC), we measure droughts in terms of number of months. As we have increasingly experienced in recent decades, three months versus either four or five months of essentially rain-free weather makes a material difference from a water supply perspective,” stated Kim Stephens.
Reflections on the 2015 Drought: “Southwest British Columbia dodged a bullet,” stated Kim Stephens in an interview published by The Province newspaper
On a positive note, Kim Stephens said the water issue is gaining a prominence in the public’s mind which it has never had. “People in general have not appreciated how vulnerable we’ve always been. They’re beginning to see how essential it is,” he said. Stephens advises the public to stay positive and not succumb to a negative state of mind. “Drought is not the end of the world. Australia survived a seven-year drought. People get through it,” he said.
“It is evident that there are many champions in local government; and it is important that we recognize and celebrate what they are doing. This is all part of creating our future. And when we ask ‘what will this community look like in 50 years’, we can point to the green infrastructure examples and then we will know what it will look like in 50 years,” stated Mayor Lois Jackson.
2015 AGM – “Feast AND Famine Workshop” attracts a large crowd to celebrate the 5th anniversary of incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC
Bob Sandford, water champion and author, was the keynote speaker for the workshop that was built around the AGM. “After a period of relative hydro-climatic stability, changes in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere have resulted in the acceleration of the global hydrologic cycle with huge implications for every region of the world and every sector of the global economy,” stated Bob Sandford.
The Vancouver Sun’s Larry Pynn covered the 2015 Annual General Meeting. In his front-page report, Pynn wrote that “British Columbians are fooling themselves if they think feel-good market gardens are the solution to making the province less reliant on outside food services.”
The Board comprises Richard Boase, Peter Law, Tim Pringle, Derek Richmond, Mike Tanner and Ted van der Gulik. All have demonstrated via past performance that they can make an effective contribution in achieving the Partnership vision for settlement, economy and ecology in balance.
“We are particularly proud of what we are facilitating via the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative. Launched in 2012, the IREI is a partnership of five regional districts representing 75% of BC’s population. The IREI is enabling ‘sharing & learning’ through inter-regional collaboration. Everyone benefits. Why reinvent the wheel when you can adapt what others are successfully doing?,” stated Kim Stephens.