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.

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.

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.

SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS, THROUGH ASSET MANAGEMENT: “We are looking at the water cycle with fresh eyes to develop new approaches, methodologies and tools,” stated Kim Stephens in his keynote presentation to the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable (June 10, 2017)

"The keynote presentation by Kim Stephens was a highlight of the day," reports Melissa Dick, Coordinator for the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable. "The messages he shared about what happens on the land matters, and the steps needed to succeed at convening for action, resounded well with the Roundtable participants. His support for the Community Meeting and his contributions throughout the day were very much appreciated."

“Cathedral Thinking aptly describes the vision for achieving Sustainable Watershed Systems through Asset Management,” concluded Kim Stephens in his keynote presentation at the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium (March 15, 2017)

"Think about when cathedrals were built a thousand years ago. They took 100 years, and sometimes up to 200 years, to build," stated Kim Stephens. "So, what it meant was - when people started on those projects, they knew that they would not see the end. But they still committed to doing it. We can learn from them. In the era of the 8-second attention span, it is the opposite end of the spectrum to say that we have to think inter-generationally and be serious about it."

SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS, THROUGH ASSET MANAGEMENT: A decade long journey has its beginning in the seminar that launched the Beyond the Guidebook Initiative (November 2007)

“The Stormwater Guidebook set in motion a chain of outcomes that has resulted in BC being recognized internationally as a leader in implementing a natural systems approach to rainwater management in the urban environment,” stated Minister of Environment Barry Penner in 2007. “The Convening for Action initiative creates an opportunity to move beyond rainwater management to embrace all components of the water cycle through integrated water management.”

SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS, THROUGH ASSET MANAGEMENT: “Streamkeeper involvement and influence is expanding beyond the creek channel,” observed Kim Stephens at a North Vancouver workshop organized by the North Shore Streamkeepers (March 2017)

"Across this province there is a movement taking place within the stewardship sector. The key is how the stewardship sector partners with local government," stated Kim Stephens. "An informed stewardship sector may prove to be the difference-maker that accelerates implementation of the whole-system, water balance approach. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone really understood what it means to think and act like a watershed."

SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS, THROUGH ASSET MANAGEMENT: “My students really love using the Water Balance Express,” stated UBC’s Julie Wilson at a North Vancouver workshop organized by the North Shore Streamkeepers (March 2017)

"Land and water are connected in a watershed, with the resulting impact being due to cumulative effects of impervious surfaces from individual properties," stated Julie Wilson. "The redevelopment cycle presents an opportunity to reduce these effects. Use of the Express tool can help to illustrate these dynamics in greater detail, and can give homeowners and developers opportunities to explore alternative designs to improve water balance on a property."

SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS, THROUGH ASSET MANAGEMENT: Can money really grow on trees in the urban environment? – Australian research finding is YES

Australian researchers compiled urban data analytics across three different suburbs in Sydney, Australia, and found that for every 10 per cent increase in the canopy coverage within the street corridor, the value of properties increased by an average of $50,000 Australian. In addition - “Our report found that without sufficient ‘green infrastructure’ Sydney would be hotter, more polluted and could be worth $50 billion less," stated James Rosenwax.