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Rainwater Management

Download British Columbia guidance documents. Learn about the guiding philosophy and tools for implementing ‘sustainable watershed systems, through asset management’. Be inspired by success stories. Understand why it is necessary to manage the complete spectrum of ‘rainfall days’ in a year, preserve or replicate the pathways by which water reaches streams, and so mimic flow-duration distribution. The emphasis herein is on the drainage runoff side of the Water Balance distribution.

Latest Posts

DOWNLOAD: Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia


“Released in 2002, the Guidebook provides a framework for effective rainwater management throughout the province. This tool for local governments presents a methodology for moving from planning to action that focuses on implementing early action where it is most needed,” states Laura Maclean. “The Guidebook approach is designed to eliminate the root cause of negative ecological and property impacts of rainwater runoff by addressing the complete spectrum of rainfall events. The Guidebook approach contrasts with conventional ‘flows-and-pipes’ stormwater management.”

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Water Balance Model – On Tour!


“Have a look at some of the Water Balance Model slideshow presentations that have been made to industry and government groups starting in 2001. This includes some of the early presentations on the Water Balance Methodology that helped pave the way for the paradigm-shift from 'peak flow thinking' to 'volume-based thinking'. The many presentations created awareness and influenced expectations,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: “Beyond the Guidebook 2010 showcases how a ‘convening for action’ culture has taken root in British Columbia. Bringing together local government practitioners in neutral forums has enabled implementers to collaborate as regional teams,” observed Glen Brown


“In 2005, we said that the Guidebook would be the ‘telling of the stories’ of how change is being implemented on-the-ground in BC. Before the chapters could be written, however, the regional case studies had to run their course,” stated Glen Brown. “Five years later, this is the story of how we got to here and where we are going next. Similar to the way the 2002 Guidebook is structured, Beyond the Guidebook 2010 is written in a way that provides the whole story for those that want it, or just key tidbits for others.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: “A crucially important message in Beyond the Guidebook 2010 is that we now have the tools and experience to design with nature,” said Richard Boase


“So many of us in local government are still searching for the magical ‘silver bullet’ that with the stroke of a pen will resolve all our watershed issues and challenges while at the same time stimulate economic activity and accommodate growth. While the search continues, it is important to note that the practical solution is around us everywhere, and is staring right at us: Soil, vegetation and trees can do more for our watersheds than decades of planning, consulting and complicated engineering design will ever achieve,” stated Richard Boase.

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PHILADELPHIA’S BOLD PLAN: Green City, Clean Waters – an inter-generational commitment to “optimize and engineer the landscape” to mimic and restore its natural hydrologic regime!


Philadelphia hopes by the mid-2030s to create the largest green stormwater infrastructure in the United States. Nancy Stoner says the program was never solely about slashing combined sewer overflow, but also about providing larger environmental and social benefits. “Philadelphia wanted to do much more,” Stoner says. “They did a benefits analysis before they began that showed it would enhance air quality and climate resiliency. It takes the problem of stormwater and turns it into an amenity.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2006: UBC-Okanagan hosted one of the early Water Balance Model training workshops in February 2006


“UBC-Okanagan is pleased to have provided the venue for this application of sustainability-on-the-ground. This sponsorship opportunity was an outcome of a meeting with the Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership (IGP), at which time we realized that UBC-Okanagan and the IGP shared a common objective in advancing the state-of-the-art for water management in the Okanagan,” stated Bernard Bauer, Dean ot the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

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CHANGING THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS: “The reality is that stormwater management has become an increasingly complex and multi-dimensional challenge,” wrote Glen Parker, North Shore Streamkeepers, in an opinion piece about rainwater management in Metro Vancouver’s North Shore region


“Perhaps because rain is thought of as a force of rejuvenation and renewal, we often neglect to think about how stormwater can actually endanger our ecosystems and fish populations across the North Shore,” wrote Glen Parker. “Protection of our local watershed starts with understanding the time and route that water takes to get into a stream. In our increasingly urban landscape, the growing presence of impervious surfaces means that massive quantities of stormwater are entering drainage systems.”

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Capturing LA’s ‘Liquid Gold:’ The County’s Bold Plan for Replicating the Water Balance


The expansive undertaking would build on top of an existing network designed to capture and store groundwater. The initiative also seeks to enhance regional cooperation between the over 200 local governments and agencies who oversee water resources throughout the County. “When you look at what we are importing into L.A. County, it’s about 60 percent of our local supply,” said Mark Pestrella.

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FLASHBACK TO 2016: “By contrasting two watersheds, we were aiming to demonstrate that there is still time to get it right on the less developed watershed,” said Nancy Gothard, City of Courtenay Environmental Planner


We all learn from stories and the most compelling ones are based on the experiences of those who are leading in their communities. Local government champions on the east coast of Vancouver Island are sharing and learning from each other through inter-regional collaboration. “We wanted to tell a story of the continuum of watershed health, and for people to understand the role that riparian cover plays,” stated Nancy Gothard.

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Embracing Shared Responsibility & Leading Change on Vancouver Island: “A paramount goal is to ‘get it right’ in the stream channel,” reports Peter Law, Vice-President, Mid Vancouver Island Enhancement Society


“MVIHES has morphed from ‘Stewards of the Englishman River Recovery Plan’ to ‘Stewards of the Watershed’. The Shelly Creek Plan is a provincial precedent. Community-driven action can restore watershed hydrology, prevent erosion and ensure fish survival,” stated Peter Law. “The challenge for MVIHES is to facilitate the community’s journey from awareness to action, expressed as follows: Once a community as a whole acknowledges that there is a problem, and also understands why there is a problem, what will the community do about it?”

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: Release of “Beyond the Guidebook 2015” drew attention to what Watershed Health issue means in practice and provincial game-changers that enable local government action in British Columbia


In British Columbia, three landmark provincial initiatives came to fruition in 2014. All embody the enabling philosophy. “Looking into the future, collaboratively developed Water Sustainability Plans can integrate water and land use planning and can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes to address water-related issues. “The scale and scope of each plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected,” states Jennifer Vigano.

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Watershed Case Profile Series: “Water Balance Approach on Vancouver Island” (released January 2018)


The storyline is built around three regional Water Balance Methodology demonstration applications. “To be useful…the simulation model must be physically based and deterministic, and it must be designed to simulate the entire hydrological cycle…hence it must be a water balance model,” wrote Ray Linsley (1917-1990). He pioneered development of continuous hydrologic simulation as the foundation for water balance modelling. The Water Balance Methodology is a synthesis of watershed hydrology and stream dynamics.

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