MAGAZINE ARTICLE (October 2015): “Sustainable Watershed Systems” connects dots between municipal infrastructure, water balance services, and health of watersheds
Note to Reader:
Since 2006, Construction Business magazine has published bi-annual articles that highlight the efforts of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC to encourage changes in land development and water management practices. In 2015, a request by magazine editor Cheryl Mah for an article on water infrastructure issues and asset management created an “awareness-raising opportunity” as the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC prepared to rollout Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.
Published in October 2015, the article was co-authored by Kim Stephens (Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC), Emanual Machado (Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Gibsons) and David Allen (Chief Administrative Officer, City of Courtenay & Co-Chair, Asset Management BC).
A New Paradigm: Watershed Systems as Infrastructure Assets
A watershed is an integrated system, is infrastructure, and is an asset that provides municipal services. Watershed systems thinking covers the continuum from water supply to drainage, and encompasses human and/or ecosystem needs.
Where a local government regulates land use, a watershed is an integral part of the drainage infrastructure assets of the local government. More specifically, the three pathways (surface, shallow lateral flow, groundwater) by which rainfall reaches streams are infrastructure assets. They provide ‘water balance services’. As such, protection and maintenance of the three pathways has financial, level-of-service and life-cycle implications for asset management.
BC Framework for Asset Management Enables Action
Released in December 2014, Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework is a game-changer. It makes the link between local government services, the infrastructure that supports the delivery of those services, and the health of watershed systems.
Sustainable Service Delivery is the “New Paradigm”. It is the singular aim. Sound Asset Management practices prevent in-service failure of assets which consequently cause service delivery interruptions. Therefore, Asset Management is the means to achieve the aim.
The BC Framework focusses on desired outcomes. It does not prescribe specific solutions. It is aligned with the asset management requirements for the Province’s capital grants program. This is the financial incentive for integration of watershed systems thinking into asset management.
Program Goal: Integrate Watershed Systems Thinking Into Asset Management
Over the next two years, the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI) would facilitate integration of watershed systems thinking and adaptation to a changing climate into asset management.
Launched in 2012, the IREI is endorsed by five Regional Boards representing 75% of the population of BC. In April 2015, all five – Capital Region, Metro Vancouver, Nanaimo Region, Cowichan Region and Comox Valley – recommitted through 2017. Program delivery is led by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
By 2017, a program goal is that all local governments would understand how to achieve Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management (supply source, stream, aquifer).
To Learn More:
To read the complete article co-authored by Kim Stephens, Emanual Machado and David Allen, and published in the September-October 2015 issue of Construction Business magazine, click on Sustainable Watershed Systems to download a PDF copy.
Acknowledgment: Reprinted with permission from Construction Business magazine.