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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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Voodoo Hydrology Annual Webinar Series (December 2017): Andy Reese explains the pitfalls of urban hydrology methods


Andy Reese coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006. “As a stormwater community, we have for years relied upon common urban stormwater hydrologic design methodologies and trusted their results. But, should we? We must understand that urban hydrology, including newer Green Infrastructure sizing approaches, as commonly practiced, is an inexact science where we are simply trying to get close to the right answer,” states Andy Reese.

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IMPLEMENTATION OF WHOLE-SYSTEM, WATER BALANCE APPROACH: “The challenge is to move from stop-gap remediation of in-stream problems to long-term restoration of a properly functioning watershed,” stated Peter Law, Vice-President of the Mid Vancouver Habitat Enhancement Society


“By sharing the story of Shelly Creek, we want readers to recognize that erosion is a common issue impacting salmon and trout habitats in small streams, draining into the Salish Sea,” states Peter Law. “Existing standards of practice have resulted in negative impacts. Continuing to use those standards will result in further environmental degradation of the watershed and loss of stream productivity. Building support for action starts with community engagement.”

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Watershed Case Profile Series: Shelly Creek is the City of Parksville's last fish-bearing stream! (October 2017)


“Shelly Creek is a tributary of the Englishman River, a major watershed system on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Shelly Creek is important to salmonids,” wrote Kim Stephens. “In 1999 the Englishman River was first declared to be one of the most endangered rivers in BC. Extinction of the fisheries resource was viewed as a very real possibility. This was the catalyst for action. It resulted in creation of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES).”

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE INNOVATION IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: A decade ago, three neighbourhood developments in Langley established successive provincial precedents that informed the evolution of the Water Balance Methodology


“Langley is unique in that DFO approved the water balance strategy at a neighbourhood scale for each of Routley, Yorkson and Northeast Gordon,” stated Jim Dumont. “DFO approval meant that design standards were applied uniformly across each neighbourhood. This was a time-saver for everyone. The approach resulted in consistency of implementation.”

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Watershed Case Profile Series: Green Infrastructure Innovation in Langley Township – 'Design with Nature' to Create Liveable Neighbourhoods


Design with nature, a whole-system approach, learn by doing and adapt. These three phrases capture the essence of how the Township builds neighbourhoods. “There are many staff members that have made this happen,” stated Mayor Jack Froese. “Council makes policy and we approve policies. And then it is our wonderful staff that carry out the policies. And so, I certainly want to recognize the work that they have done.”

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DESIGN WITH NATURE BECAUSE: "The reality of climate change has exposed the hubris of the pave, pipe and pump mentality that has dominated urban development for over a century," wrote Sophie Knight in an article for the Guardian newspaper's resilient cities page


“As the recent floods from Bangladesh to Texas show, it’s not just the unprecedented magnitude of storms that can cause disaster: it’s urbanisation,” observed Sophie Knight. “A recent survey of global city authorities carried out by the environmental non-profit CDP found 103 cities were at serious risk of flooding. With climate change both a reality and threat, many architects and urbanists are pushing creative initiatives for cities that treat stormwater as a resource, rather than a hazard.”

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Interview offers insight into ‘watershed / stream’ approach: What makes BC’s stormwater approach different than other jurisdictions in North America?


James Careless had an assignment to look into stormwater modelling tools (for projecting flow and other patterns); both to determine the most common tools used, and some of the most innovative approaches that are coming into use. His research into BC’s water balance approach led him to switch gears from an examination of modelling tools to learning what ‘establishing watershed objectives for stormwater management’ means in practice.

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SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS: “The Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy allows the Town to bring the value of nature into the DNA of municipal decision-making,” states Emanuel Machado, Chief Administrative Officer


Gibsons is leading by example in successfully implementing its visionary Eco-Asset Strategy. The Town is the Living Laboratory for the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative. It is also a demonstration application for Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. “Since declaring Nature its most valuable infrastructure asset, the Town has integrated the Eco-Asset Strategy into everything that the municipality does,” states Emanuel Machado.

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BACKGROUNDER SERIES ON SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS: Governments of Canada and British Columbia fund water balance tools and resources for climate adaptation action (September 2017)


“Local governments in British Columbia already face a $200 billion challenge for renewal of aging hard infrastructure. And now, as communities face the increasing impacts of climate change, there is another unfunded liability – the cost to restore watershed hydrology and water resilience in the built environment,” stated Kim Stephens. “British Columbia has arrived at a fork in the road. How, and how quickly, will communities respond? And how will they adapt over time to the New Normal? “

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