WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN: Community-of-practice for ‘Convening for Action in British Columbia’ – “Having the waterbucket.ca website as a communication platform allows the Action Plan partners to ‘tell our story’ and ‘record our history’ as a work-in-progress,” stated Ray Fung (2006)
“Convening for Action is a provincial initiative that supports innovation on-the-ground. From the perspective of those leading and/or participating in regional programs, having this community-of-interest provides the opportunity to ‘tell our story’ and ‘record our history’ as a work-in-progress,” states Ray Fung. “It will turn ideas into action by building capacity and understanding regarding integration of long-term, strategic planning and the implementation of physical infrastructure.”
DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia – Our Story (March 2018)
“Future planners, engineers, scientists, politicians and citizens alike will be called upon to demonstrate both vision and pragmatism, working as a team towards consensus, commitment and collaboration for the common good. Such collaboration is essential and must cross all political and community boundaries given that climate change is no respecter of such creations. The Partnership has accepted this challenge and its implementation,” stated Eric Bonham.
Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan
In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. “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.
DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “The Emerging Crisis Around Groundwater Legislation Implementation in British Columbia” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in April 2021
Effective March 2022, the transition period for groundwater licensing ends. The implication is that ‘historical uses’ without a licence would be considered ‘new uses’. As a result, those historical users who do apply for a licence would be subject to the new rules and conditions applicable to ‘new uses’. “Leadership at the highest level and a clear strategy to motivate historical groundwater users to apply, including signalling that government will deal with unauthorized water use, would be the game-changer that groundwater licensing desperately needs right now,” stated Mike Wei.
SHORT-TERM GRATIFICATION VS INTER-GENERATIONAL LEGACY: “If we truly want our governments to shift from short-term to longer term thinking, as voters we must then be prepared to support – and re-elect – those politicians who bring in such policies and legislation, even if those initiatives negatively impact us personally today,” stated Joan Sawicki, a former Speaker of the BC Legislative Assembly and Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks during the period 1991 through 2001
“Not many people understand the decision-making process that politicians and public employees go through in attempts to address ‘the public interest’. Voters often send mixed messages. While it is perfectly legitimate to hold politicians’ “feet to the fire”, there is some justification to do the reverse as well! It is sometimes too convenient to blame politicians for the short term thinking hole that we are in. In a representative democracy, politicians can only lead where people are prepared to follow,” stated Joan Sawicki.
GUIDANCE DOCUMENT: “Drinking Water & Watershed Protection in the Nanaimo Region – Right People in Right Place at Right Time, Over Time” (#9 in the Watershed Case Profile Series, released April 2021)
“The objective and mission of the DWWP program has always been about connecting land and water management. But the RDN couldn’t just leap straight there. We first had to build partnerships, trust, datasets and knowledge. We had to test ideas, learn, earn credibility, and deepen relationships across jurisdictions. The RDN demonstrates commitment to watershed initiatives and water sustainability by delivering the DWWP Action Plan with a long-term reliable funding source through parcel tax,” stated Julie Pisani, DWWP Program Coordinator.
ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: Drought, forest fires and floods in 2003 created a “teachable year” for change in British Columbia, got the ball rolling for the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative, and led directly to the “Water OUT = Water IN” paradigm-shift for water supply management in a changing climate (April 2005)
In 2004, the Water Sustainability Action Plan and the Provincial Drought Forum generated the momentum within the provincial government to organize the Achieving Water Balance Workshop in 2005. “The severe drought of 2003 in British Columbia is evidence that the historical approach of supply management for water resources is not sufficient,” stated Jim Mattison. Lavishly high volumes of per capita water use, continued community and economic expansion, plus baseline environmental needs were all competing for their share of BC’s finite, but renewable, water resources. The era of supply-side management was drawing to a close.
RESTORE THE BALANCE IN THE WATER BALANCE: “In 2005, the year after release of the Water Sustainability Action Plan, the Province and Partnership co-hosted the launch event for the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative. The event also allowed the Province to fulfil a commitment flowing from the 2004 Drought Forum,” stated Kim Stephens
“Held in Penticton, the workshop pointed the way forward to the next paradigm-shift in water supply management. Designed as a technical transfer session, it shone the spotlight on the Water OUT = Water IN way-of-thinking. Context is everything. In 2005, BC was early in the second decade of water conservation to reduce demand on supply systems. The ‘Penticton Workshop’ was the first milestone in a multi-year process to raise awareness among water decision-makers that ensuring a safe and adequate water supply depends on understanding the science behind the OUT = IN equation,” stated Kim Stephens.
DOWNLOAD THE REPORT ON ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “Conventional water supply planning is typically based on a narrow understanding of engineering statistics without really understanding the role that climate variability plays,” stated Robert Hicks, program content co-developer for the workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)
The workshop was organized in two parts and the presentations were cascading in order to elaborate on the OUT = IN theme. In the morning session the focus was on concepts and success stories related to Building Resiliency. This provided participants with a mind-map for the afternoon session when they were asked to apply what they had learned in Creating Your Future. “A key message in my presentation revolved around the importance of lingo in communicating with decision-makers, and how messages can easily be lost in translation when language is not used effectively,” stated Robert Hicks.
GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Awareness / Education / Requirement – “Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will be by regulation,” stated Chuck Gale, a senior local government director of engineering in the Metro Vancouver region and the first Chair (2003-2005) of the BC Green Infrastructure Partnership, when he reflected on the path forward at the 2004 Consultation Workshop held in Metro Vancouver
“The primary purpose of the consultation was to explore the diversity of issues and difficulties inherent in defining and implementing a green infrastructure approach to land development. The consultation resulted in identification of 17 recommendations in five theme areas,” reported Chuck Gale. “An over-arching theme that emerged from the discussion revolves around the need to provide the bridge between those who make the decisions and those who implement the decisions.”
GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “I see my years of chairing the Green Infrastructure Partnership as helping to get the ball rolling and ideas disseminated, on green infrastructure, all of which has subsequently been taken up by others to a much greater degree of implementation and success,” stated Paul Ham, Past-Chair (2005-2008)
The paradigm-shift that occurred during Paul Ham’s watch far exceeded original expectation that the partnership would be a catalyst for change. As General Manager of Engineering with the City of Surrey, Paul Ham changed history by enabling his staff to pioneer implementation of green infrastructure. He set in motion a chain of events. That is his legacy. At a regional scale, Paul Ham enhanced the credibility of the Green Infrastructure Partnership. This enabled building of bridges to elected representatives and senior managers in the Metro Vancouver region.
RECONNECT PEOPLE, FISH, LAND AND WATER: “At the end of the day, it often comes down to the right people in the right place at the right time, over time. When the stars are aligned, it can result in pure magic,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, in his panel presentation at the virtual Living Soils Symposium hosted by Regeneration Canada (February 2021)
“The vision is to reconnect people, fish, land and water in altered landscapes. The big question is HOW we will pull this off. Decisions ripple through time. So it is imperative that we replace short-term thinking with a long-term view that extends out 50, 100 or more years. Instant gratification and quarterly reports are examples of the worst kinds of short-term thinking. That is what we have to replace with a career perspective. It takes a career to figure things out. And then we have to pass that understanding and wisdom on to the next generation,” stated Kim Stephens.
LIVING LAKES CANADA – COLLABORATING TO PROTECT WATER IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: “If we don’t build this water balance approach to support subsequent water budgets, we’re not going to be prepared for what potentially could be an exponential drop in water supply,” states Kat Hartwig, Founder & Executive Director, Living Lakes Canada
Climate change impacts and the need for increased water monitoring to fill important data gaps have been well documented in several studies over the past decades. “One of the things we were interested in was looking at how we could fill those data gaps and how we could support local government and Indigenous water monitoring priorities because there are such limited resources for collecting and sharing data. So we set out to build an open source data hub. Now we’ve got the platform built, we’re training groups to upload their data, and we’re receiving feedback from groups and provincial and local governments to ensure we’re supporting their needs,” stated Kat Hartwig.