"Once we know what we want our watersheds and neighbourhoods to look like, the next step is to decide what the tools are that will get us there. All of us need to understand and care about the goal if we are to create the future that we all want," stated Vincent Lalonde.
"As biological creatures, we depend on natural capital and its ecosystem services to sustain the health and well-being of our families and communities. But these benefits are often taken for granted by decision-makers on land-use issues, such as municipal zoning, because we have such a poor understanding of what they are and what they’re truly worth," stated Dr. Faisal Moola, Science Director of the Suzuki Foundation.
Still Creek is a highly urbanized watershed with a population of over 100,000 residents, and drains from the City of Vancouver into the City of Burnaby. “To see salmon return to Still Creek after so many decades has been incredibly exciting, especially given that just a few decades ago, this stream was widely viewed as one of Canada’s most polluted waterways. Quite simply, the events that have unfolded on Still Creek highlight the fact that we should never give up on any river," states Mark Angelo.
“The ultimate objective of the workshop is to support fish populations – good habitat is a key element and sustainable watersheds are part of the big picture,” states Glen Parker. "Public awareness and support is essential to achieving this objective. So we need to draw community attention to the tangible things that all residents can do to support sustainable watersheds. Their cumulative beneficial actions will lead to good habitat and fish will thrive.”
The agenda for the half-day forum was structured in four parts. "The forum program was a mix of storytelling, showcasing, sharing and teaching so that we would achieve the learning outcomes,” reports Ted van der Guilik. "Our objective in the first two segments was to engage and energize our audience. For this reason, we conducted them as town-hall sharing in order to prime everyone for the teachable moment in segment #3.”
"We are experiencing wetter, warmer winters and longer, drier summers," stated Kim Stephens. "BC dodged a bullet during the 2015 drought – that leads us to focus on how the decisions those in local government make on a daily basis impact on the water balance. This perspective frames the bigger picture and sets the stage for drilling down into the details of the Water Balance Methodology.”
The Winston Churchill quote provided a way to change the pace, capture audience attention and set the stage for the balance of the 'look back to look ahead' theme that characterized the storytelling in the opening segment of the forum. If there is a living memory of the way things were, then it should be possible to implement standards of practice that would replicate and restore a desired watershed condition.
“Getting to this point has involved the re-thinking of traditional approaches to urban hydrology and computer modelling," wrote Tom Debo, a former colleague and friend of Ray Linsley. “Drainage engineers have traditionally thought in terms of flow rates, not volumes. In dealing with urban hydrology, we need to focus on how much rainfall volume has fallen, how we are going to capture it, and what we are going to do with it.”
“The Water Balance Methodology is based upon watershed and stream function and operation. Understanding how precipitation makes its way to the stream allow us to assess how a watershed and stream operates and to analytically demonstrate impacts of development and the effectiveness of any mitigation works," states Jim Dumont.
“Water Balance adaptive action is necessary because we may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime in Western North America,” stated Kim Stephens. "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. In other words, the ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is floods and droughts.
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