Sustainable Watershed Systems in British Columbia: IREI program goal is to embed ‘state-of-the-art’ hydrology in engineering ‘standard practice’
“Use of the Water Balance family of methods and tools will help local governments bring state-of-the-art hydrology into engineering standard practice,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “Our objective is to make it easy for local governments to establish, require and implement Water Balance performance targets. The methods and tools exist. It is a matter of enhancing them to support EAP (Ecological Accounting Protocol) plus expand their use. For example, the Online Watershed Assessment Tool is a means to an end: restore watershed hydrology and re-set the ecological baseline. To influence standards of practice, however, we must first open minds. The Online Watershed Assessment Tool will help us open the minds of technically advanced modellers.”
WEBINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: Protecting Urban Watersheds and Stream Health (on May 2 at 11am PDT / 2pm EDT)
The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is partnering with Forester University to share, via webinar, the innovation and experience that has resulted in the whole-system, water balance approach that is the hydrologic modelling foundation for ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’. “Collaboration with Forester University means the Partnership will have created an online teaching resource that will keep on giving,” states Richard Boase. “As a teaching tool, the webcast is intended to help these professionals ask the right questions. We would like them to focus on how they and others can apply science-based understanding, properly and effectively.”
Under an agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for Infrastructure Modeling and Management (ncimm.org) has been created to provide sustainable research, development and outreach for water infrastructure modeling, initially focusing on two foremost modelling tools – known around the world by the acronyms EPA SWMM and EPANET. Dr. Charles Rowney is the Director of Operations. “It is the combination of diverse needs, ideas and solutions that will make the vision for the Center work,” stated Dr. Rowney. “That is one of the reasons we’re so pleased with the agreement just reached with the British Columbia Partnership for Water Sustainability. We have many needs in common, and many ideas to share.”
FREE WEBINAR: Canadian Attitudes About Water – 10 Years of Research Tells a Story of Contradictions (April 11, 2017)
Join Bob Sandford and friends, on April 11th, for a deep dive into RBC’s 10th annual Canadian Water Attitudes Study—an in-depth examination of how Canadians think, feel, and act in regard to our fresh water. The story that has emerged from this research is both complex and enlightening. On one hand, it confirms how much Canadians value our water and how integral our lakes and rivers are to our national identity; on the other, it reveals a troubling carelessness with a resource Canadians still consider unlimited in its abundance. “We don’t pay the real costs of the water we use—neither the costs necessary to transport and treat it, nor the environmental costs of wasting it. As a result, we’ve come to believe that water is cheap. There’s no incentive to use less of it,” Sandford concludes.
Collaborating under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI), the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is one of five regional districts sharing and learning from each other about how to implement ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’. In March 2017 , the Federal and Provincial governments announced program funding for Sustainable Watershed Systems. The CVRD acted on behalf of the partners to receive the capacity-building grant from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF). “Local government collaboration under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI) is producing tools and resources that will help communities integrate watershed systems thinking into land use and infrastructure decisions,” stated Jon Lefebure.
“Something really good is happening in British Columbia,” observed Bob Sandford at Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium
Bob Sandford is frequently a keynote speaker at ‘water events’ in British Columbia, including Feast AND Famine (Metro Vancouver, 2015) and FLOWnGROW (Okanagan, 2016). In March 2017, he spoke on Vancouver Island at the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: Climate Change, Nature’s Services and Thinking Like a Watershed. Bob Sandford’s ongoing exposure to the sharing and learning that takes place at these events provides him with an observers’ perspective on the transformational impact of such ‘watershed moments’ and how watershed systems thinking is taking root in British Columbia. “I travel widely, but I have never heard a conversation like what I have heard at the Symposium. And while I am often part of very positive conversations, what was unique (about the Symposium) was the atmosphere of possibilities and hope that I have witnessed here,” stated Bob Sandford.
“The book ‘downstream: reimagining water’ is an anthology,” explains Michael Blackstock. “It brings together the perspectives of artists, writers, scientists, scholars, environmentalists, and activists. It does this by exploring the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology. My chapter is titled Interweaving Water. It outlines four steps toward transforming sovereign knowledge into collaborative knowledge: (1) humility, (2) transcending, (3) interweaving, and finally (4) transformation. I illustrate this process using the theory of Blue Ecology. Curiosity about other cultures draws us into a better understanding, and allows us to contrast and compare two worlds. The product of curiosity is an analysis whereby comparison and contrast enable the interweaving process.”
A group of British Columbia’s largest conservation and recreation groups have come together to ask all provincial political parties to develop policies and positions relating to rivers as part of their election platform. The election is in May. Among those leading the campaign are the 100,000 member Outdoor Recreation Council. Mark Angelo is the Council’s rivers chair. “British Columbia is blessed with a river heritage that is among the finest in the world and yet, our waterways continue to face an array of pressures,” states Mark Angelo. “The goal in bringing together a coalition of conservation and recreation groups is to generate a greater public awareness of the importance of these issues and persuade all political parties to take in-depth positions on these matters.”
Ecological Accounting Protocol – A Tool to Calculate the Opportunity Cost of Drainage Infrastructure
EAP, the acronym for Ecological Accounting Protocol, is one of the twin technical pillars for the whole-system, water balance approach that would refocus business processes to properly manage watershed systems within the built environment. The thinking behind EAP is that it will help focus local governments on measuring what matters. “The EAP approach begins by first recognizing the importance of a stream in a natural state and then asking: how can we maintain those ecological values while allowing the stream to be used for drainage,” states Jim Dumont. Benefits of the whole-system approach would include less flooding, less stream erosion, and more streamflow during dry weather when needed most.
PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Stormwater Impacts Communities and Creeks – What Can Streamkeepers Do? (March 18 in North Vancouver)
“The ultimate objective of the workshop is to support fish populations – good habitat is a key element and sustainable watersheds are part of the big picture,” states Glen Parker. “Public awareness and support is essential to achieving this objective. So we need to draw community attention to the tangible things that all residents can do to support sustainable watersheds. Their cumulative beneficial actions will lead to good habitat and fish will thrive, if given a chance. We cannot overlook the political nature of decisions in our communities. The workshop, kicked off by political representatives, helps reinforce the belief with our leaders that watersheds matter. Also, though much of the drainage system is hidden, it does matter; and resources need to be directed to the system and to restoration of watershed health.”