“In community drinking watersheds, logging is accelerated as harvest rotations shorten. The reduced ability of forests to capture winter rain and slow snowmelt leads to increased spring runoff, resulting in more flooding and source drinking water quality issues,” states Tim Ennis. “If the long-term value of forest ecosystem services was taken into account when community development is planned, more forested areas would be retained to capture rainwater. The pressure on drainage conveyance systems would then be reduced, natural streamflow patterns would be maintained, and water quality would be protected. The canopy of a mature douglas fir tree intercepts and transpires over 30% of winter rainfall most of the rest through infiltration. Removing trees to facilitate urban development is going to load up our stormwater systems, lead to increase flooding and sedimentation in streams."
Salmon enhancement stewardship groups were formed in the 1990s as a response to the Coho salmon crisis. These groups asked questions of their local governments about the linkages between small stream salmon demise and land developments, and this resulted in research and early action. More than two decades later, most community-based groups still exist, providing thousands of volunteer hours to restore aquatic habitats. Now, the scope of their involvement and influence is expanding beyond the creek channel. “The stewardship and conservation sector has traditionally focused on habitat restoration and protection of lands with high ecological values,” states David Stapley. “With cumulative impacts from climate change, urban and resource development escalating, these groups have now become community leaders in educating and supporting improved land use practices.”
“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."
In the June 2016 issue of Sitelines magazine, nine articles showcase the breadth of program elements delivered by the Partnership under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for BC. In 2016, the Partnership delivered the keynote address at the BCSLA Annual Conference and gave examples of How the Water Sustainability Act is Already Influencing Water Management in British Columbia. “The set of articles introduces readers to concepts such as ‘water as a form-maker’. This means watersheds are defining landscapes,” stated Tim Pringle. "In many ways, the built environment has to adapt to watershed features and water movements to maintain viable settlements.”
The Partnership for Water Sustainability is a champion for “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”. This is a whole-system, water balance approach for restoration of watershed health within the built environment. It is based on this premise: natural watershed systems are infrastructure assets – we must manage and protect them as such. "Understanding leads to action. Getting to action is a step-by-step process to give practitioners the tools and experience to get the job done," stated Kim Stephens. "In addition, moving from understanding to implementation requires a sustaining commitment by local governments to implement ‘standards of practice’ that restore the desired watershed condition over time."
The International Association of Hydrological Sciences introduced Blue Ecology into mainstream science in 2008. Their peer review gave Blue Ecology credibility and profile, but there has been little awareness in British Columbia of what Michael Blackstock has accomplished. The essence of Michael’s vision is ‘embrace a water first approach’ because water is a living entity. It is the sacred centre from which all other activities radiate. “Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context," stated Michael Blackstock. “Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing.”
Renowned landscape architect, writer and educator Ian L. McHarg (1920-2001) was best known for introducing environmental concerns in landscape architecture. His 1969 book Design With Nature pioneered the concept of environmental planning. Design with Nature is widely considered one of the most important and influential works of its kind. The ecological planning method developed by McHarg was seized upon and used throughout the world. "So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!," wrote Ian McHarg in 1991.
West Vancouver is implementing regulatory change through enactment of precedent-setting Site Landscaping Requirements in its Zoning Bylaw. The District is demonstrating leadership and innovation by leveraging Sections 523 and 527 of the Local Government Act to achieve desired outcomes for on-site rainwater management. “The District of West Vancouver, through the ongoing discussions related to neighbourhood character and building bulk, has undertaken to implement a requirement for site landscaping as part of both new development and the redevelopment of properties throughout the community,” states Jim Bailey. "Compliance includes limiting the amount of impermeable surfacing, surface runoff control, the requirement for screening and landscaping to mask or separate adjacent uses."
In the vein of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—a visionary in urban development and renewal—champions the role of cities in addressing the environmental, economic, and social challenges of the 21st century. He advocates using green infrastructure to mitigate damage from destructive storms. "What's so compelling about natural systems solutions is that they not only save costs but also improve the quality of life," he contends. "As the 21st century progresses, metropolitan areas will bear the brunt of global megatrends such as climate change, natural resource depletion, population growth, income inequality, mass migrations, education and health disparities, among many others,” observes Jonathan Rose.
The Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable has made significant advancements under its collaborative model. One highlight is the development of a unique watershed plan that recognizes important linkages between ecosystem health and human well-being, and advances ecosystem-based thinking and planning across multiple jurisdictions of the Coquitlam River watershed. “Planning for capacity is proving especially important as the Roundtable looks forward to implementation of its Lower Coquitlam River Watershed plan over the coming years. The logistics of actually implementing watershed-wide initiatives spanning multiple jurisdictions make for uncharted territory in this watershed, however the Roundtable looks forward to taking on this new challenge and building the capacity needed to effectively do so," states Marni Turek.
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