"Water-centric planning means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire province. At the core of the approach is a water balance way-of-thinking and acting. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed," explains Kim Stephens.
Published in March 2002 by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the "Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning" was developed by an interdisciplinary working group and is the genesis of "water-centric planning".
In July 2015 Metro Vancouver moved to Stage 3 water restrictions – banning all lawn sprinkling with treated drinking water and bringing in a number of other water conservation measures. “We need to reduce our discretionary use of water including lawn sprinkling and washing cars,” said Board Chair Greg Moore. “Our reservoir levels need to be maintained for priority needs in our homes and businesses, and for community needs like fire protection.”
"A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia" was developed by a working group chaired by Prad Khare. The Strategy will contribute to a sustained and healthy resource and provide a common framework for water management activities throughout the province by advancing water as a valuable resource which must be utilized efficiently, wisely and cost-effectively to sustain a high quality of social, environmental and economic well-being, for now and in the future.
North American communities that are on the front lines of managing excess stormwater flows need strong engagement from governments and civil society to develop and implement sustainable solutions to this widespread problem. “The steps we take now will help future generations. One of the first steps policy makers should take is to properly assess how vulnerable our communities are to the damaging effects of excess stormwater," stated Gustavo Alanís-Ortega.
“The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is drought and flooding. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. This is putting water supply systems and ecosystems under extreme stress. If we seize the moment, we will change how we do business and the cumulative benefits will ripple through time,” stated Kim Stephens.
"We are in uncharted territory, we've never had it this dry ever in recorded history. So we are under great stress at the reservoirs, consequentially we have to reduce our consumption. We need well over 140 to 150 millimetres to have reservoirs back to where they should be, " said North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto.
In 1992, co-authored papers by Tom Heath and Kim Stephens and by Ted van der Gulik and Kim Stephens were adapted and published as an integrated magazine article. "Although there is a perception that BC is water-rich, the reality is that we are often seasonally water-short (mainly because of storage limitations) during the period when water demand is heaviest due to lawn and garden irrigation," wrote the authors in their opening paragraph.
In order to conserve water during the unseasonably dry and hot weather, Metro Vancouver introduced new water restrictions that include regulations around lawn watering. Declaring that the Metro Vancouver region is in the second stage of a four-stage plan, the Commissioner of the Water District (Carol Mason) said "we are asking residents and businesses to further conserve water at this time.”
“We are the only panel that will be talking about watersheds. We will be as frank and forthcoming as possible about the challenges and opportunities. Each member of the panel will speak to Water/Land Use interactions in BC, and along the Fraser River in particular. Each will elaborate on the biggest concerns for the future, anticipated positive changes, what civil society can do to ensure a better future, and where we are going from here," stated Anna Warwick Sears.
“The approach that we took in the Englishman River Watershed was to involve the community,” stated Gilles Wendling. “The long-term health of watersheds depends upon the stewardship of the people who live in the watershed. By getting them involved, the community connects to its watershed, its complexity and how it works. Community members will then be able to more willingly modify their behaviour and management of the land.”
"The Inter-Regional Education Initiative, known by the acronym IREI, is closely linked to CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. The Comox Valley CAVI team facilitates collaboration at the regional level, and IREI connects the regions for inter-regional collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas, policies and approaches for rainwater management and more recently, asset management," said Kris La Rose.