Moving Towards Healthy Watersheds: Local government champions on Vancouver Island share the proverbial wheel, rather than reinventing it
Jody Watson, Nancy Gothard and Julie Pisani are examples of local government partners on Vancouver Island who bring strong enthusiasm and professional skill to fostering collaborative relationships for leveraged outcomes in their work in public education, local data collection, and policy improvements, to promote watershed health in their respective regions. “We each consider it a success when we can achieve more outputs with fewer inputs, and have committed to continue to adopt a sharing approach to their work,” states Nancy Gothard.
“A perception that nothing else works is a result of not counting the full costs or impacts of sole reliance on centralised solutions,” wrote Dr. Peter Coombes, Australian water champion
“The editor of Australia’s most respected economic and business newspaper, the Financial Review, has questioned the wisdom of the arguments for sole reliance on large scale centralised water infrastructure, in particular desalination. This process motivated an article about competition across scales. This has resulted in a range of actions, including collaboration with our key federal regulator and discussions with a range of government leaders”, wrote Peter Coombes. “The economic efficiency of Australia’s centralised water utilities is rapidly declining – and consumers are paying for it. The political drivers of this market failure are as much to blame as the economic drivers. State bureaucracies own the water monopolies, oversee the regulators, recommend executive appointments and decide membership of consultant panels.”
ON APRIL 11-12: Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate (Field Trip, Public Lecture & Symposium in Nanaimo)
“Community members caring for waterways are the key to making a difference in restoring naturally functioning watersheds over time,” says Zo Ann Morten. She points out that the Salmonid Enhancement Program is active in communities across BC and works with up to 30,000 volunteer stewards. “The stewardship community can work with local governments to inform the broader community. We can open eyes and minds. We can open doors so that together we can make the changes necessary to achieve a vision for a watershed.”
WEBINAR (March 8): An opportunity to learn about innovation in public engagement in the Ottawa River watershed
“PlaceSpeak is designed for how Canadians behave in a digital age. Individuals are in the driver’s seat, deciding how they want to participate, on what topics, and how often they wish to be notified about opportunities to provide input,”stated Marina Steffensen. “This platform will allow us to break down the feedback received, resulting in a more nuanced and meaningful understanding of how participants use and interact with the Ottawa River watershed across diverse communities.”
FLASHBACK TO RELEASE OF “BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2015” – Watershed Health: game-changers enable local government action in BC
In British Columbia, three landmark provincial initiatives came to fruition in 2014. All embody the enabling philosophy. “Looking into the future, collaboratively developed Water Sustainability Plans can integrate water and land use planning and can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes to address water-related issues. “The scale and scope of each plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected,” states Jennifer Vigano.
ATTEND & BE INSPIRED: Nanaimo Water Symposium – Collaboration Success Stories on Vancouver Island (April 11-12)
“Changes in the global climate are accelerating and disrupting the water cycle. Local consequences, ofttimes negative, are magnified. To make the right decisions, we need to understand how and where the water rhythms are changing. We must adjust our land use and infrastructure practices before its too late,” states John Finnie, Chair of the Nanaimo Symposium Organizing Committee. “Attend the symposium on April 11-12, 2018. Listen. Hear. Be heard. And make a difference.”
In September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 6 pertains specifically to water: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. Goal 6 encompasses water-related ecosystems. “The vital importance of water and water-related trade-offs with climate policy has largely been ignored to date. At first glance, water plays no role in the Paris agreement. Upon closer examination, however, we see that climate policy will have far-reaching implications for the availability of water and vice versa,” wrote Ines Dombrowsky.
“A watershed is an integrated system – with three types of flows, each with a different time scale. Yet long-standing drainage engineering practices for servicing of land ignore, overlook or eliminate two of the three. Such practices are the root cause of stream and aquatic habitat degradation,” wrote Kim Stephens. “BC is at a tipping point. A provincial policy, program and regulatory framework is in place to help local governments bridge the gap between policy and a new standard of practice.”
SAVE THE DATE (April 11-12) TO BE INSPIRED – The Hard Work of Hope – Collaboration Success Stories on Vancouver Island
Adapting to climate change requires transformation in how we value nature and service land. An informed stewardship sector can be a catalyst for action. “What we are essentially talking about is reconciliation: going back to the headwaters of where we got our relationships with water and with one another wrong so that we can start back down the river of time – this time together – with a full understanding of the importance of embracing a water-first approach to planning human interventions in the environment,” states Bob Sandford.
WHAT DO YOU WONDER: the opportunity cost of balancing ecological services with drainage infrastructure
“Initially, we saw EAP as a tool (i.e. ‘the protocol’) that would help practitioners calculate the opportunity cost of balancing ecological services with drainage infrastructure. However, our thinking has evolved over the past year. Testing the approach through two demonstration applications has resulted in this defining conclusion: EAP is a process, not a protocol. Thus, we are rebranding EAP as the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Pringle.