"The Concept Development Session in September 2011 served as an inaugural meeting of individuals with a role in water and land management. The session purpose was to determine the viability of a regional team approach to water sustainability within the region ," explained Ron Smith. "The apparent disconnect between water and land management was noted by many participants."
"We spent the last half a century trying to control runoff with dikes, storm sewers, curbs and gutters. Now, increased development and increased storm intensity from climate change are increasing peak flows and altering the rules of the game," stated Anna Warwick Sears. “The Okanagan is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of unmanaged stormwater and rainwater."
"The intention is to learn with and from each other about what we can do to advance community-based efforts in creating a conservation culture in BC and achieving an environmentally sustainable future," stated Pia Nagpal. "To achieve an environmentally-sustainable future with adequately functioning natural systems will require the involvement and commitment of all citizens.”
“Healthier watersheds can handle high and low rainfall better, and are therefore more resilient to the coming changes," stated Kris La Rose. "From the regional perspective, mitigation of flood risk, water conservation and restoration and protection of our streams and rivers are all key priorities. The increase in extreme weather is highlighting the need to build better resiliency into the natural systems that we all rely so heavily upon."
“Demand for water will only increase as summers get longer, hotter and drier. BC needs 215,000 hectares of irrigated agriculture to feed our current population. With careful planning, the ~28,000 irrigated hectares in the Lower Mainland could be increased to 69,000 hectares at buildout," stated Ted van der Gulik. These agricultural lands are located approximately half and half in the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional districts.
The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is floods and droughts. What is changing is how and when water arrives. “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,” states Bob Sandford.
"BC local governments are faced with three interconnected issues. The first is to manage more effectively infrastructure and assets that underpin quality of life and economic productivity in an era of scarce resources. The second is to contain costs, taxes and risks. The third is to maintain community resilience in the face of challenges, including climatic variability and extremes," states Kim Stephens.
The event was an opportunity for organizations to highlight tools, resources or other supports they can provide to help local governments to increase capacity and undertake local planning, projects and development. “The UBCM event allowed us to introduce local government elected representatives, especially those elected in the November 2014 election, to the Partnership and to the Water Sustainability Action Plan," states Mike Tanner.
“Many BC watersheds are either already fully allocated or will be in the next 15 to 20 years. Originally developed for the Okanagan Basin, the Agricultural Water Demand Model is currently operational throughout the southern half of BC. The model is web-based and enables scenario comparisons to assess the implications and impacts of a changing climate, in particular warmer winters and longer summers," states Ted van der Gulik.
"Some of the most valuable take-aways from the workshop for me personally were the reassurance of community support and motivation. The forward thinking visions were inspiring! As an engineer, the technical tools and charts were certainly of interest to me. The cross-learning between a variety of specialists has remained thought provoking since the workshop, and has resulted in me reaching out to my network already," stated Yvonne Faas.
A scenario comparison tool to assess green infrastructure effectiveness, achieve a lighter 'water footprint' and protect stream health. Learn More
The Water Conservation Calculator illustrates how specific water conservation measures can yield both fiscal and physical water savings for communities. Learn More
This Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Calculator uses real-time daily evapotranspiration (ET) rates determined from climate stations located within British Columbia. Learn More
This Agricultural Irrigation Scheduling Calculator uses real-time daily evapotranspiration (ET) rates determined from climate stations located within British Columbia. Learn More
The BC Agriculture Water Calculator enables water licensing for all irrigation purposes, whether agricultural or landscape. All non-domestic users of groundwater in BC are required to obtain a licence. Learn More