“The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is drought and flooding. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. This is putting water supply systems and ecosystems under extreme stress,” says Kim Stephens. “What you do on the land or how you treat the land has direct implications and consequences for water use.”
“In other regions, notably California, they think of droughts in terms of number of years. In the Georgia Basin (Southwest BC), we measure droughts in terms of number of months. As we have increasingly experienced in recent decades, three months versus either four or five months of essentially rain-free weather makes a material difference from a water supply perspective,” stated Kim Stephens.
REFLECTIONS ON THE 2015 DROUGHT: “Southwest British Columbia dodged a bullet,” stated Kim Stephens in an interview published by The Province newspaper
“This past summer, local government water managers throughout Southwest BC were telling me that watershed conditions were so dry that there was simply no inflow to water storage reservoirs as the drought progressed. There were a lot of worried folks by late July when there was no end in sight to the drought and it appeared that we were about to experience an unprecedented 6-month period with almost no rain. There is no Plan B once the reservoirs are empty. The clock is ticking. Communities need to leverage this teachable year and seize opportunities to change how the water resource is viewed and managed,” emphasized Kim Stephens.
“It is evident that there are many champions in local government; and it is important that we recognize and celebrate what they are doing. This is all part of creating our future. And when we ask ‘what will this community look like in 50 years’, we can point to the green infrastructure examples and then we will know what it will look like in 50 years,” stated Mayor Lois Jackson. Delta has supported the work of the Partnership since 2002, in particular the Water Balance Model initiative.
2015 AGM – “Feast AND Famine Workshop” attracts a large crowd to celebrate the 5th anniversary of incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC
Bob Sandford, water champion and author, was the keynote speaker for the workshop that was built around the AGM. The event attracted representatives of 18 local governments from the Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island regions. “After a period of relative hydro-climatic stability, changes in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere have resulted in the acceleration of the global hydrologic cycle with huge implications for every region of the world and every sector of the global economy,” stated Bob Sandford.
The Vancouver Sun’s Larry Pynn covered the 2015 Annual General Meeting. In his front-page report, Pynn wrote that “British Columbians are fooling themselves if they think feel-good market gardens are the solution to making the province less reliant on outside food services.”
ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (2015): “The Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative is enabling sharing & learning through inter-regional collaboration. Everyone benefits,” stated Kim Stephens
“We are particularly proud of what we are facilitating via the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative. Launched in 2012, the IREI is a partnership of five regional districts representing 75% of BC’s population. The IREI is enabling ‘sharing & learning’ through inter-regional collaboration. Everyone benefits. Why reinvent the wheel when you can adapt what others are successfully doing?,” stated Kim Stephens.
The Partnership’s Annual Report provides a synopsis of program activities and accomplishments over the past year, as well as a look ahead to 2016 and beyond. “In 2015, we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the incorporation of the Partnership as a legal entity. We are building on a foundation that was laid more than a decade earlier. We embrace shared responsibility. We are excited by what can be accomplished through collaboration and partnerships,” states Kim Stephens.
“The Province passed the new Water Sustainability Act in 2014 and is currently working on implementation. Groundwater will be one of the first initiatives being tackled by the province. While conducting outreach on groundwater with agricultural producers, the Province was requested by the agricultural community to develop a tool that producers could use to determine how much water they should be applying for in an irrigation license. This created a partnership opportunity for PWSBC to make a material difference,” stated Ted van der Gulik.
PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATES 5-YR ANNIVERSARY: “The vision for the website was, and is to provide a resource rich, highly interactive ‘destination location’ website,” says Mike Tanner, a founding Director
“The vision for the website was, and is to provide a resource rich, highly interactive ‘destination location’ website for information and communication related to water sustainability in the Province of BC. To date, over a quarter million visitors have viewed and used the information and tools contained on the waterbucket.ca website. While this may not seem to be a large number compared to YouTube hits, over 90% of our visitors are using our site to access information that directly assist them in planning and facilitating change within their communities,” states Mike Tanner.