“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
"At the dawn of 2017, the purpose of this article was two-fold: take stock of our progress in 2016 to inform and educate; and foreshadow where we may be at year-end," stated Kim Stephens. "Early uptake of the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems has exceeded our expectations. There is clearly interest and an appetite to learn more. It is an idea whose time has come. The desired outcome that would flow from Sustainable Watershed Systems is a water-resilient future."
"In his article, Kim Stephens draws parallels between made-in-BC solutions and those 'Down Under', noting cultural differences but the common need to adapt," explained Julie Schooling, issue editor. He introduced Australians to three ‘big ideas’ that underpin where we are heading in BC, namely: Primacy of Hydrology, Shifting Baseline Syndrome, and Cathedral Thinking. The three are interconnected. The outcome would be Sustainable Watershed Systems.
"Work needs to be done today to ensure we see a secure water future. Benefits are long-term," wrote Kim Stephens. "Successful programs that are politically supported would ensure we restore the water balance and have sustainable watershed systems. This approach has the potential to re-set the ecological baseline along the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland. Success would be abundant salmon in urban streams."
“Communities would benefit from shifting their definitions of community infrastructure to include entire watersheds. Including the components and pathways of a watershed system among infrastructure assets, and both managing them as integrated systems to maintain the natural water balance within communities and protecting them, would help communities avoid incurring expensive fixes and unfunded liability," wrote Brian Bedford.
"A key message in the Primer is the necessity of 'staying true to the science' IF communities are to achieve a vision for sustainable watershed systems," wrote Kim Stephens. "Achieving sustainable watershed systems through asset management will require long-term commitment by communities, successive municipal councils and regional boards, and generations of land and water professionals."
Restoring watershed function will require a long-term commitment by the community at large, successive Municipal Councils and Regional Boards, and generations of land AND water professionals. "The challenge is ‘integration’ and getting every discipline to recognize each others’ contribution plus get the organization working together on a common path. The other challenge is communicating and understanding the message," wrote Wally Wells.
"The ultimate vision for fully integrated Sustainable Service Delivery is that communities would protect, preserve, restore and manage natural assets in the same way that they manage their engineered assets," stated Glen Brown. "A watershed, and the ecosystem services that it provides, is a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure. Trees, soil, green spaces and water do contribute a valuable municipal function in maintaining the hydrologic integrity of a healthy watershed system."
"BC local governments are faced with three interconnected issues. The first is to manage more effectively infrastructure and assets that underpin quality of life and economic productivity in an era of scarce resources. The second is to contain costs, taxes and risks. The third is to maintain community resilience in the face of challenges, including climatic variability and extremes," stated Emanuel Machado.
"British Columbia local governments are sharing and learning from each other. The province is at a tipping point. Water balance tools and case study experience are in place. It is within the grasp of local governments to move beyond traditional infrastructure asset management. They can account for nature’s services by implementing Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management," wrote Kate Miller.
A scenario comparison tool to assess green infrastructure effectiveness, achieve a lighter 'water footprint' and protect stream health. Learn More
The Water Conservation Calculator illustrates how specific water conservation measures can yield both fiscal and physical water savings for communities. Learn More
This Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Calculator uses real-time daily evapotranspiration (ET) rates determined from climate stations located within British Columbia. Learn More
This Agricultural Irrigation Scheduling Calculator uses real-time daily evapotranspiration (ET) rates determined from climate stations located within British Columbia. Learn More
The BC Agriculture Water Calculator enables water licensing for all irrigation purposes, whether agricultural or landscape. All non-domestic users of groundwater in BC are required to obtain a licence. Learn More