Waterbucket Blog

REGISTER NOW: Learn why an adequate and affordable water supply is essential for long term food security in the Metro Vancouver region

Agriculture is a large fresh water user and the demand for water will only increase as summers get longer, hotter and drier. With careful planning, the irrigated area in the Lower Mainland could be increased from 29,000 hectares to 69,000 hectares at buildout. The Agriculture Water Forum is designed to bring together agriculture producers, government representatives and water professionals to explore opportunities to improve water management for agriculture in British Columbia’s rapidly growing metropolitan region. “The farming community needs a secure supply of water at a sustainable level of cost, quality and quantity to maintain the viability of actively farmed agriculture land in the Metro Vancouver region,” states Daryl Arnold.

BLUE ECOLOGY: Blending First Nations spirituality with Western water balance science

"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," states Michael Blackstock. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, 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.....Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies ……There is hope for future generations if we take a water-first approach to setting global priorities."

DOWNLOAD NOW: primer on what application of “ecosystem-based understanding” by local governments in British Columbia would look like…..

Restoring hydrologic integrity is key to achieving a water-resilient future in urban areas. The sixth in the Beyond the Guidebook Primer Series serves as a refresher on core concepts that underpin the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. “An interface is needed to translate the complex products of science into achievable goals and implementable solution for practical resource management. This interface is what we now call a science-based understanding," stated Peter Law. "A science-based understanding of how land development impacts watershed hydrology and the functions of aquatic ecosystems provides a solid basis for making decisions to guide action where and when it is most needed.”

PARALLEL JOURNEYS: Australian conference showcased how British Columbia is moving towards a water-resilient future

In 2001, Kim Stephens was keynote speaker for an Urban Water Cycle Management Capacity Building Program for local governments in New South Wales, Australia. Fast forward to August 2016. His keynote presentation at Stormwater 2016, a national conference held in Queensland, provided him with a platform for reflecting on “parallel journeys” during the period 2001 through 2016. "BC and Australia are on parallel journeys, but our pathways to a water-resilient future differ. Still, by sharing and comparing, we can inspire each other. Also, we can learn from each other’s experience to avoid going down dead-ends," stated Kim Stephens. "Because Australian practitioners are at a fork in their journey, they are looking to learn from BC experience. They are curious about our 'whole systems' approach to water balance management.”

SAVE THE DATE – CBC’s Bob (Quirks & Quarks) McDonald headlines “Flow & Grow Workshop” (Nov 29)

The concept for FLOW AND GROW is both visionary and practical, so constructed to identify solutions regarding water security. FLOW AND GROW will explore the role of water from the global to the local with Bob McDonald of Quirks & Quarks fame on CBC Radio leading the opening module. Loved by audiences across Canada for making complex scientific issues understandable, meaningful, and fun, Bob McDonald is in high demand. A fixture in radio and television broadcasting for more than 30 years, he is currently the host of Quirks & Quarks–the award-winning science program. "A global perspective reminds us of the limited availability of fresh water on the planet, a vital life sustaining resource that demands a raised level of consciousness and commitment," says Bob McDonald.

Think and Act like a Watershed: the primacy of hydrology

The Water Balance Methodology is the foundation for an ecosystem-based approach to protection of hydrologic integrity, and hence stream system resilience. “The Partnership for Water Sustainability is evolving the Water Balance Methodology as our understanding of HOW to restore hydrologic integrity grows. The methodology now synthesizes fundamentals of hydrology, flood protection, aquatic ecology, geomorphology and hydrogeology," stated Jim Dumont. “The flow-duration relationship is the cornerstone of the Water Balance Methodology. By maintaining flow-duration, stream erosion is not increased during wet weather and ‘environmental flows’ are sustained during dry weather. When homeowners slow, sink and spread rainwater runoff on their property, urban streams benefit."

Think and Act like a Watershed: Rain gardens can help save salmon

In 1996, Richard Horner and Chris May (University of Washington) published their seminal research on the cumulative impacts of land use change on stream health. Twenty years later, new research by Dr. Jenifer McIntyre (aquatic ecotoxicologist, Washington State University) demonstrates the dual benefits of rain gardens when they mimic the natural Water Balance and eliminate toxicity from urban runoff. “We don’t need to know everything about how toxic runoff is, or how it causes toxicity, to be able to do something about the problem. To date, the experimental results are pretty impressive – for example, 100% fish dead in polluted runoff compared with 100% fish survival in the same water after it had been filtered," states Jennifer McIntyre.

Think and Act like a Watershed: “whole systems” approach by Rich Horner & Chris May stands the test of time

In 1996, Richard Horner and Chris May (University of Washington) published their seminal research on the cumulative impacts of land use change on stream health. Their findings shook conventional stormwater management wisdom in the Pacific Northwest to its very foundation. "At Kitsap County we have applied this Whole Systems concept to develop our strategy for watershed retrofit and rehabilitation - it is not sufficient to do only a single (or even a few) things - it is necessary to do everything! We know we need to work at multiple scales and multiple levels to improve conditions in our small stream watersheds - that's our strategy. Kitsap is at a manageable scale. The County is big enough to effect change and make things better. That is our goal - have a positive impact on the community," stated Chris May.

“Ecosystem-based Adaptation” (EbA) – influence land use & infrastructure practices in urban watersheds

The core concept of the research project, EbA, is a combination of two other significant concepts: EBM (ecosystem-based management) and climate change adaptation. “Adapting to climate change will require a combination of approaches, from man-made infrastructure to holistic approaches. British Columbia’s Stormwater Planning Guidebook promotes a holistic approach to rainwater management, which views rain as a resource and aims to mimic the natural hydrological cycle by allowing rainwater to return directly to the ecosystem,” notes Julia Berry. "Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is a novel approach to planning and adaptation."

Licensing Groundwater Use under British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act

Passed by the British Columbia Legislature in Spring 2014, the Water Sustainability Act and new regulations were brought into effect on February 29, 2016. The Act is a game-changer because it recognizes the connection between land use actions and the implications for the both the water cycle and watershed sustainability. “In British Columbia, surface and groundwater are now managed under the same regulatory system,” states Greg Tyson, Water Policy Advisor with the BC Ministry of Environment. “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.”