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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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NEW REPORT FROM INTACT CENTRE ON CLIMATE ADAPTATION: “Too Small to Fail – How Communities Can Prepare for Bigger Storms”


A featured project is the Across Canada Workshop Series, led by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, to showcase the online Water Balance Model Express. “The Partnership has many online tools for assessing site-specific conditions which are available for free or available through a free trial,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate. “Whether a project team is interested in setting watershed-specific performance targets or a homeowner would like to learn about water flow on their property, there are tools for various types of projects which may be helpful at different stages of a project life-cycle.”

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SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS: An understanding of Daniel Pauly’s “Shifting Baseline Syndrome” is a foundation piece for reconnecting hydrology and ecology, and turning the clock back to move towards restorative development


Coined by Daniel Pauly, the phrase Shifting Baseline Syndrome describes an incremental eroding of standards that results with each new generation lacking knowledge of the historical, and presumably more natural, condition of the environment. Each generation then defines what is ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ according to current conditions and personal experiences. “Every generation will use the images that they got at the beginning of their conscious lives as a standard and will extrapolate forward. And the difference then, they perceive as a loss. But they don’t perceive what happened before as a loss,” stated Daniel Pauly.

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Leading Change on Canada’s Prairies: A unique rain garden has been installed along the perimeter of Harvest Townhomes, which the developer says is a first in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


“West Coast style has migrated to the prairies at Harvest Townhomes, designed and constructed by Arbutus Properties in its popular community, The Meadows,” wrote Jeannie Armstrong. “The Harvest Townhomes development has above-ground 3-storey townhomes with colourful exteriors and attached garages, a style more typical of Vancouver than Saskatoon. When fully built out, Harvest Townhomes will comprise over 225 units. A unique rain garden, developed in consultation with the University of Saskatchewan, has also been installed along the perimeter of Harvest Townhomes.”

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VIDEO: “Maximum Extent Practicable, or MEP, has become the definitional driver for a lot of what we do,” said Andy Reese, engineer and writer who coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006 to explain the pitfalls inherent in urban drainage practice


“Years ago I was privileged to travel around the US with EPA putting on seminars,” stated Andy Reese in 2011. “Three off-the-cuff words have probably have had the biggest impact in influencing land design of any sort of regulatory program that ever was, and perhaps that ever will be. Those three words were maximum, extent and practicable. Back then, none of those words were capitalized. They were just a made-up term. But MEP is now taking on green infrastructure overtones, sustainability overtones, LID overtones, and on and on.”

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Stream daylighting would reconnect community to Mississippi River: Redevelopment of historic Ford car assembly site in Saint Paul, Minnesota offers potential for “A 21st Century Community”


There once was a creek running through the St. Paul land where Henry Ford built his Twin Cities Assembly Plant. The project will reintroduce area residents to the Mississippi River.“We know we have a new neighborhood and how do we allow the existing neighbors and new neighbors to physically connect with the river as a resource?” he asked. “This is so powerful, because it’s also a way to have people reconnect with the urban ecosystem and the downstream river.”

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Global runoff volumes are increasing dramatically, according to a new Columbia University study (2018): “Our findings can help provide scientific guidance for infrastructure and ecosystem resilience planning and could help formulate strategies for tackling climate change,” stated Dr. Pierre Gentine


Columbia Engineering researchers have demonstrated that stormwater runoff extremes have been dramatically increasing in response to climate change and other anthropogenic changes to the environment. The researchers also found that storm runoff has a stronger response than precipitation to human-induced changes (climate change, land-use land-cover changes, etc). “Our work helps explain the underlying physical mechanisms related to the intensification of precipitation and runoff extremes,” Pierre Gentine said. “

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SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS: Reinvigoration of the provincial oversight function is essential to help local governments be effective in moving British Columbia towards restorative land development.


Water defines B.C., and the rhythms of water are changing. Civil engineers, urban planners and decision-makers must change their mind-sets and grasp the inherent complexity and unpredictability of working with natural systems.“80% of the revitalizing work done by urban planners and civil engineers in the 21st century will undo 80% of the work their predecessors did to cities and nature in the 20th century,” foreshadows Storm Cunningham, author of the Restoration Economy, and global thought leader. “We don’t fully understand complex systems, so humility and adaptive management are needed to restore nature, and to revitalize cities.”

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WATER BALANCE PERFORMANCE TARGETS: “The flow-duration relationship is the cornerstone of British Columbia’s Water Balance Methodology. As understanding has grown, the methodology has evolved.” – from Water Balance Approach on Vancouver Island (released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in January 2018)


The Water Balance Methodology has its genesis in the whole-system approach that Dr. Ray Linsley (1917-1990) championed more than 60 years ago. As a professor at Stanford University, he pioneered the development of continuous hydrologic simulation as the foundation for water balance management. “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 Linsely in 1976.

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HOW WATER REACHES A STREAM: “The ‘Water Balance’ – what do urban drainage practitioners mean, really, when they use that phrase,” asks Jim Dumont rhetorically


“The ‘Water Balance is a term that has been widely adopted by many; however, there are also many different meanings and methods for its application. In this article, I describe four different approaches to a so-called ‘water balance approach’,” stated Jim Dumont. “For each approach, I provide a very simple introduction so that the reader will have a sense of what each approach involves. My purpose is to provide a contrast with the approach we have been developing and adopting in British Columbia.”

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SMART DEVELOPMENT: “The Town of Gibsons is recognized as a leader in sustainable planning and development. In many respects, the genesis can be traced back to the SmartStorm Forum Series which set in motion a chain of events that are still reverberating in British Columbia,” stated Barry Janyk, a former Mayor (1999-2011)


When the SmartStorm Forum Series introduced the term 'smart development' in 1999, the goal was to advance implementation of an integrated and balanced approach to land use. “The response to the SmartStorm Forum Series was simply overwhelming,” recalls Barry Janyk, “For the first event, held in Nanaimo, the doors had to be closed when the surge of last-minute registrations reached the seating capacity of the venue. When we decided to host the second event on the Sunshine Coast, the skeptics asked me who would come to the Sunshine Coast. Well, they did come and they came from far and wide, including Ontario.”

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