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.

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.

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? "

SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS: Flood, drought, fire, wind and cold – because extreme events are becoming the norm…..

As communities face the increasing impacts of climate change, there is an unfunded liability – the cost to restore watershed hydrology and water resilience in the built environment. “The Partnership for Water Sustainability is evolving, online tools that support implementation of the whole-system, water balance approach. British Columbia, Washington State and California are leaders. We are moving forward in parallel on this journey,” states Jim Dumont.

KEYNOTE AT COMMUNITY MEETING OF COQUITLAM RIVER WATERSHED ROUNDTABLE (June 2017): “Everyone needs to agree on expectations, and how all the players will work together,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, when he explained the ‘regional team approach’

"The 'regional team approach' is founded on partnerships and collaboration; and seeks to align actions at three scales - provincial, regional and local," stated Kim Stephens. “We use the word collaboration a lot in British Columbia. And it means something to us. But in other parts of the world, my experience is that they don’t really understand our ‘top-down, bottom-up’ approach. It may take us longer to get there, but collaboration is how we get to the destination."

KEYNOTE AT COMOX VALLEY ECO-ASSET SYMPOSIUM (March 2017): “It has taken more than a decade to implement a policy, program and regulatory framework that makes possible ‘water-resilient communities’,”stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, when he elaborated on the vision for ‘sustainable watershed systems’

“Too often we talk about water and land as silos. But what happens on the land does matter! It is whether and how we respect the land that really affects what happens with water. That is a key message. It is why we are moving forward with the program for informing and educating local governments and the stewardship sector about the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management," stated Kim Stephens.

FLASHBACK TO 2012 (Video): River advocate, Mark Angelo, and others tell an inspiring story about salmon and the transformation of Still Creek, a long-abused urban stream in the Vancouver region – “Never give up on any river!,” says Mark Angelo

“Over many decades, people in the area have worked tirelessly to help bring the creek back to health," stated Mark Angelo, founder of World Rivers Day. “To see salmon return has been incredibly exciting, especially given that just a few decades ago, this stream was widely viewed as one of Canada’s most polluted waterways. Quite simply, the events that have unfolded on Still Creek highlight the fact that we should never give up on any river," states Mark Angelo.

KEYNOTE AT REGIONAL WORKSHOP ORGANIZED BY NORTH SHORE STREAMKEEPERS (March 2017): “Redevelopment of neighbourhoods creates opportunities to ‘get it right’ the second time and restore watershed health,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia

“Our region is hemmed in by the mountains, the sea, the US border and the Agricultural Land Reserve. This means population growth will be accommodated through redevelopment, and this involves redevelopment of watersheds. This is what gives us the second chance to get it right," stated Kim Stephens. "As the housing stock turns over, there is a window of opportunity. We get one window every 50 years. Will local government take action in time?"

KEYNOTE AT ‘RISING TO THE CHALLENGE’ CONFERENCE IN AUSTRALIA (August 2016): “Two keynote presentations in Australia over a 15-year period have allowed me to view our evolving British Columbia situation in a comparative context,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

“The Rising to the Challenge conference was a milestone event. Because Australian practitioners are at a fork in their journey, they are looking to learn from BC experience. They are curious about our “whole systems” approach to water balance management," observed Kim Stephens. "BC is moving from asset management to 'sustainable service delivery', with a focus on protecting the 'water balance services' that a watershed system provides."

ASSET MANAGEMENT BC NEWSLETTER (June 2017) – Embed ‘state of art’ hydrology in engineering ‘standard practice’ to achieve Sustainable Watershed Systems

“The BC Framework sets a strategic direction that refocuses business processes on outcomes that reduce life-cycle costs and risks. The program goals for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI) are aligned with this strategic direction,” stated the Hon. Peter Fassbender when he announced (in March 2017) funding for the IREI program through 2018. The vision for implementation of a whole-system, water balance approach is to protect and/or restore stream health