"We have moved from an age of natural abundance to the age of natural scarcity and the challenge moving forward will be to find new ways for developing, protecting, and managing healthy ecosystems. Water is critical to the survival and proliferation these ecosystems and our success depends on collective change regarding the management of this precious resource," stated Michael Florendo, Program Director.
The update presentation highlighted the move towards sustainable watershed systems through asset management. During the question period, the members of the committee chaired by Mayor Darrell Mussatto (photo) asked Kim Stephens to elaborate on a number of topic areas, in particular the connection between watershed health goals and municipal land development practices, and the value to local government from taking an asset management approach.
The Capital Regional District has undergone a transition, from ‘stormwater-based thinking’ that is narrowly focussed, to ‘watershed-based thinking’ that is holistic in approach. Judy Brownoff, Chair of the Environmental Committee, welcomed Kim Stephens and invited him to update the members about the CRD chapter in Beyond the Guidebook 2015. CRD experience shows that local governments can foster a new ‘Land Ethic’ through Integrated Watershed Management Strategies.
In June 2008, Comox Valley local governments volunteered to be a ‘demonstration application’ for exploration of a regional team approach that would be guided by the Living Water Smart target for watershed health. "The Board appreciates that the story of this journey is told in Beyond the Guidebook 2015," stated Bruce Joliffe, Chair. "As a result of the presentation by Kim Stephens, we have a much better understanding of why it is necessary to integrate watershed systems into asset management over the long-term."
The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is recognized for the leadership of its Drinking Water & Watershed Program. Success is helping to foster a new ‘land ethic’ among land and water practitioners in the region. Bill Veenhof (photo), RDN Chair, expressed his appreciation to Kim Stephens (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC) for providing the RDN Board with an understanding that the RDN program is helping other regions overcome the disconnect between information and implementation.
The Cowichan region is an incubator for ‘watershed systems thinking’ and application of Water Balance tools. A key message is that there are three pathways by which rainwater makes its way to a stream. According to Mary Marcotte, Chair of the Regional Services Committee, the Board learned that each pathway is an infrastructure asset. And if each pathway is an asset, then each provides a Water Balance service, she noted.
Communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable precipitation to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. It has been difficult even for experts to grasp the extent of what the loss of relative hydrological stability means. "When EMA hosted a session about the 2015 drought, Kim Stephens explained what needs to be done to restore the water balance in urban areas," stated Stephanie Voysey, EMA Vice-President (Education).
"The presentation by Kim Stephens gave further insight into how thinking has evolved regarding stormwater management in our region and elsewhere. His discussion of Voodoo Hydrology reinforced the importance of questioning everything, a habit I try to encourage in my students," stated Laith Furatian. The term was coined by Andy Reese, an American engineer and writer, in 2006 to describe the mis-application of science.
"It is evident that there are many champions in local government; and it is important that we recognize and celebrate what they are doing. This is all part of creating our future. And when we ask ‘what will this community look like in 50 years’, we can point to the green infrastructure examples and then we will know what it will look like in 50 years," stated Mayor Lois Jackson.
“The ‘convening for action’ initiative is the best example of peer driven innovation that I have ever seen," states Dale Wall, former Deputy Minister. "It has led to nothing less than a quiet revolution in how we approach the design and construction of human settlements in British Columbia. I firmly believe that this ability to creatively innovate in support of sustainable practices will enable us to meet a host of future challenges."
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