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WHAT HAPPENS ON THE LAND DOES MATTER! – hosted by Forester University (May 2017), the Water Balance Webinar from British Columbia introduced a North American audience to the methodology that underpins vision for “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. “The genesis for these methodologies and tools goes back 15, 20 years. It has been a building blocks process as we work towards restoration of the water balance in urban watersheds. For the past 18 months, we have been using the terminology of Sustainable Watershed Systems for the purposes of advancing a different way of doing business.”

FLASHBACK TO 2006: West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones teamed with Green Infrastructure Partnership to champion ‘Design with Nature’ approaches, overcome barriers and create a legacy in British Columbia


The goal is to turn local governments on to the practical reality that designing with nature holds out hope for communities and cities to function better, to our lasting benefit. "As the leaders appointed to design the Sustainable Region Initiative, we view you as critical partners in affecting positive change with regard to infrastructure design in the region," stated Mayor Goldsmith-Jones in December 2006 at a Metro Vancouver Sustainability Community Breakfast.

DESIGN WITH NATURE: Data Show that Increased Tree Canopy Boosts Property Values in Sydney, Australia

“To ensure the value of green infrastructure is recognised, our research found a connection between canopy coverage and the value of Australia’s favourite investment, the family home," stated Roger Swinbourne. “The irony here is that the very development that often leads to the removal of trees suffers in the long run as the ‘double whammy’ of direct sunlight and more surface water increases maintenance frequency and cost.”

FLASHBACK TO 2013: Low Impact Development – the United States can learn from British Columbia experience, concluded Paul Crabtree, leader of the US-based Rainwater in Context Initiative

“The Canadians do appear to be ahead of the US in this field because the US EPA took a really bad approach to LID that was based on the premise that enforcing every site to the same standard would somehow fix the problems of water quality in the US,” commented Paul Crabtree. “The USA EPA approach has done some good, but has several crippling drawbacks."

“Green City, Clean Waters”: An interview with Philadelphia’s Howard Neukrug about the bold vision for re-imagining the urban landscape

"Instead of expanding our infrastructure, we put together a plan to price, value, reuse, recycle, infiltrate, transpire or otherwise manage, every drop of rainwater we could. We started to invent the millions of ways to reduce the amount of rainwater that arrived at our sewer inlets. The goal was to consider rainwater as a commodity and a resource—if it enters a sewer drain it becomes a costly waste product," explained Howard Neukrug.

FLASHBACK TO 2011: Value of Water Balance Model / Express recognized by Metro Vancouver Regional Board


At a Special Meeting held in October 2011, the Metro Vancouver Board amended the 2012 Budget to include a grant for the Water Balance Model / Express. “Metro Vancouver has contributed $50,000 to fund further enhancement of the Water Balance Model because widespread use of this decision tool will help Metro Vancouver and members fulfil our regulatory commitments, in particular those related to integrated rainwater management,” stated Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, Board Chair.

BACKGROUNDER SERIES ON SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS: What the “Whole-System, Water Balance Approach” means for Lowland Drainage in BC (May 2017)

"Many years ago, the province established a set of criteria which determined the level of drainage improvements that were deemed to be acceptable in terms of cost-benefit, and the ability to pay,” explains Ted van der Gulik. “The supporting analysis optimized the relationship between agricultural return on production and cost of drainage infrastructure investment. These have come to be known as ARDSA criteria. "

FLASHBACK TO 2009: Rainwater/Stormwater Management in the City of Surrey: An Historical Perspective

At the Surrey Forum, Remi Dubé provided an historical perspective on how drainage planning in Surrey has evolved since the 1970s, and how key neighbourhoods embody the Surrey sustainability vision. "There is a fundamental difference between Surrey and other Metro Vancouver municipalities,” stated Remi Dubé. “Surrey has moved beyond pilot projects; we are moving to a broader watershed objectives approach to capturing rain where it falls to protect our streams.”

FLASHBACK TO 2011: From Stormwater to Rainwater – POLIS Project and University of Victoria Environmental Law Clinic released “Peeling Back the Pavement”

The inspiration for “Peeling Back the Pavement” was a report titled Re-Inventing Rainwater Management: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Resources in the Capital Region. "Environmental and stream health problems in the Capital Region are the legacy of an obsolete 19th century stormwater management system—a system that fails to respect natural systems and water cycles,” states Calvin Sandborn.