Note to Reader:
Under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia serves as the secretariat for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI).
The Partnership has undertaken to help build local government capacity to implement Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. Tools and programs are accessible, replicable and align fully with the strategy to implement Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A Framework for BC.
The IREI program is currently funded by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Clean Water & Wastewater Fund (CWWF).
The water-resilient future shown as Step Three on the Asset Management Continuum (on the image below) would be, by definition, a ‘Sustainable Watershed System’.
To provide guidance, the Partnership has prepared Policy, Program and Regulatory Context for the Whole-System, Water Balance Approach in British Columbia – Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”.
Bring the Hydrology ‘State-of-the-Art’ into Engineering ‘Standard Practice’
The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is floods and droughts. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and we can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in our watersheds.
Annual volumes of water entering and exiting our regions are not necessarily changing; instead, what is changing is how and when water arrives – it is feast AND famine!
Watershed Systems as Infrastructure Assets
A watershed is an integrated system, is infrastructure, and must be viewed as an asset that provides municipal services. Watershed systems thinking covers the continuum from water supply to drainage, and encompasses human and/or ecosystem needs.
“No longer is asset management only about hard engineered assets such as watermains, sewers and roads. The BC Framework encourages local governments to manage their natural assets in the same way they manage their hard engineered assets,” said the Honourable Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
“Successful implementation provincewide of Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management, would represent an evolution in how infrastructure is planned, financed, implemented and maintained in British Columbia.”
British Columbia Policy, Program and Regulatory Context for Whole-System, Water Balance Approach
The document is an easy read and short!
It is written for busy folks. The objective is to provide multiple audiences with “need to know” information.
If the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia has done a good job of communicating, then readers would be that much better equipped to grasp and assess the essence of what needs to be done to make a difference and restore watershed health in their communities.
In a nutshell, here is the storyline:
- First, we introduce the provincial context for ‘sustainable service delivery’ (on page 2).
- Then we synthesize the history of and basis for the whole-system, water balance approach (on pages 3 and 4).
- After that, we elaborate on the need to bring the hydrology ‘state-of-the-art’ into engineering ‘standard practice’ (on page 5)
- Finally, we look to the future to foreshadow how communities would achieve Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management (on page 6)
As a bonus, a set of four progress articles as published in the Asset Management BC Newsletter are included as an appendix. These document the initial roll-out of the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems during the period September 2015 through January 2017.
When read in sequence, the four articles tell a story.