LEADING CHANGE: British Columbia’s Water Balance Methodology – Coming to Terms with “Voodoo Hydrology”! (Forester University Webinar on May 2, 2017)

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. In the 1960s, Linsley championed the paradigm-shift from empirical relationships to computer simulation of hydrologic processes.

United States EPA funds creation of Center for Infrastructure Modeling & Management: “British Columbia experience in whole-system, water balance based approaches in the Pacific Northwest adds a critical combination of tools and understanding to the water resources toolbox,” states Dr. Charles Rowney, Director of Operations

“It is the combination of diverse needs, ideas and solutions that will make the vision for the Center work,” stated Dr. Rowney. “That is one of the reasons we’re so pleased with the agreement just reached with the British Columbia Partnership for Water Sustainability. We have many needs in common, and many ideas to share. The leadership shown by the Partnership has led to a body of knowledge from which others can learn."

LOOK AT DRAINAGE DIFFERENTLY: “We have a standard-of-practice that is generally accepted as not achieving what is best for the environment,” stated Jim Dumont at the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium

“So what is the nub of the issue? In standard practice, only surface runoff is considered, and this has led to degraded streams. The other pathways by which rainfall reaches streams are ignored,” explained Jim Dumont. “If communities are to truly benefit from use of nature’s assets to provide vital community infrastructure services, then we must change the engineering standard-of practice to one that is state-of-the-art and reflects real-world hydrology.”

Interview offers insight into ‘watershed / stream’ approach: Watershed objectives start with the stream and end with the stream, say Jim Dumont & Kim Stephens

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.

Water Balance Methodology: “Watershed objectives start with the stream and end with the stream,” says Jim Dumont, the Partnership’s Engineering Applications Authority

“The Water Balance Methodology is based upon watershed and stream function and operation. Understanding how precipitation makes its way to the stream allow us to assess how a watershed and stream operates and to analytically demonstrate impacts of development and the effectiveness of any mitigation works," states Jim Dumont. “The Methodology provides solutions with verifiable results and where mitigation systems optimized for cost and function."

United States EPA: Modelling study demonstrates that “green infrastructure = flood resilience”

“Research has demonstrated the water quality and channel protection benefits of GI; however, the effect of reducing the severity of flood events has not been investigated at a watershed level," said Dr. Dan Medina. "The EPA posed this question – would the combined effect of thousands of rain gardens designed to capture relatively small volumes of runoff lead to a significant reduction in flood risk? The answer to this question is YES.”

Voodoo Hydrology Annual Webinar Series (January 2016): “The rise of Green Infrastructure and Resilience Planning opens the door for newer Voodoo like never before,” observes Andy Reese, water resources engineer and author

“All uses of rainfall instead of flow data make the ‘Big Assumption’," states Andy Reese. “This is a problem, because there are an infinite number of combinations of all the variables within the watershed we have to estimate to try to arrive at that one peak flow. So we must make simplifying assumptions about everything that affects stormwater volume and that moderates its flow rate.”

Looking at Rainfall Differently: “Stormwater management is at a crossroad,” wrote Jim Dumont in a magazine article published in 2006

“The Stormwater Guidebook for British Columbia, published in 2002, offers direction and guidance on how to do stormwater management planning, design principles, and objectives," wrote Jim Dumont. “We must be driven to investigate the problems and issues that stimulated preparation of the Guidebook. In doing so, we will be able to advance the science and engineering practice in a manner intended by the Guidebook."

Voodoo Hydrology: Andy Reese shares his experience and wisdom in an Annual Webinar Series

For years practitioners have relied upon common urban stormwater hydrologic design methodologies and trusted their results. But, should they? Join returning speaker Andy Reese as he exposes the black box of urban hydrology. In this webinar, Andy (with his normal humor) “lays bare” the popular urban stormwater methodologies, as well as their key elements, assumptions, most common misuses, and proper application.

“Hydrology remains a hybrid between the art and the science,” wrote Robert L Smith in 1990

"Good practice of the art is dependent on understanding the theory of the science; not the reverse. Become fundamentally sound in the theory, and your ability to accept and adjust for uncertainty in boundary conditions will reflect good judgement. Hydrology remains one of the few opportunities in technology where one's diagnostic capability is put to the test of both theory and experience," stated Robert L Smith in 1990.