"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".
An in-depth analysis of perspectives, emerging trends and opportunities associated with watershed governance and water sustainability. “Decision-makers, communities, rights holders, licensor holders, and stakeholders cannot operate in silos. Rather, they must develop a collective, shared vision for their local watersheds and how to better manage resources for the benefit of users, local economies and nature to achieve long-term watershed health," says Natasha Overduin.
The forum will engage B.C.’s freshwater stewards and leaders in a strategic dialogue of best strategies to support shared governance in the province. “B.C. is on the cusp of national – even international – leadership for shared decision-making on fresh water. This event can help propel those conversations, sketching out implementation for water governance that actively includes local communities in the process," states Lindsay Telfer.
"The current situation clearly demonstrates that B.C. needs a binding regulation — not just the current policy guidance — to explicitly and transparently establish how decision-makers must account for fish and other aquatic needs. While this was initially promised, decision-makers now appear to prefer the opaque, optional nature of policy guidance, rather than codifying the rules in a transparent regulation," wrote Tanis Gower.
Research at Simon Fraser University resulted in development of a framework for evaluating application of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA). “The research provides rainwater and adaptation planners with an overview of EbA from principles to practice. The evaluation framework can be used to assess and score the extent to which provincial, regional or municipal documents incorporate EbA principles,” stated Kim Stephens.
“In British Columbia, surface and groundwater are now managed under the same regulatory system,” states Greg Tyson. “Effective February 29, 2016 all non-domestic users of groundwater are required to obtain a licence to withdraw and use water from wells. This means that about 20,000 existing non-domestic well owners, including those in the agriculture sector, must now apply for a licence.”
"Changes in Pacific Ocean conditions have major impacts on precipitation and temperature in the province," states Faron Anslow. “During a normal winter, the North Pacific Ocean loses heat. The weather from 2013 through 2015 prevented the cooling from happening as fast. As a result, the ocean became warmer than normal. Much of this was caused by the high pressure system and the relatively calm conditions that came with it.”
“We are using an adaptation strategy developed around the District’s Official Community Plan (known by the acronym OCP). For a local government, everything we do is driven by the OCP. By linking our climate adaptation strategy to the OCP, this results in an enabling framework for discussion and action in the spheres of influence encompassed by the OCP. It is all linked," stated Richard Boase.
A University of Washington report has found that the blob — a warm ocean area roughly the size of the continental U.S. — has gone, but should appear again every five years or less. “It was a pretty unusual event which no one predicted. In the future, we can expect more,” said Hillary Scannell, who co-authored a recent study of Pacific Ocean temperatures for a 65-year period dating back to 1950.
“The work of the Partnership is supporting the Province’s Living Water Smart vision and Green Communities initiative,” wrote Wes Shoemaker. “Other partnership capacity-building tools and resources developed by the Partnership, such as the Water Balance Model for BC and Water Conservation Calculator, are helping to build community resilience and align well with the goals of both the Water Sustainability Act and the Climate Leadership Plan.”
For British Columbians, 2015 was the year of the great drought, dwindling snow packs, melting glaciers, beleaguered salmon runs and a costly forest fire season, followed by windstorms and heavy rains. “2015 ranks with 2003 as a defining teachable year. Lessons learned will inform how local governments move forward with a ‘water balance’ approach to rainwater management, protection of watershed function and land servicing,” observes Kim Stephens.