FLASHBACK TO 1992: Article on “Water, Water Everywhere….Does British Columbia Really Need a Water Conservation Strategy?”


Note to Readers:

cover (240p) apegbc journal - 1992 article by stephens, heath and van der gulikThe more things change, the more it seems that they stay the same. As British Columbia experienced province-wide drought conditions in 2009, this provided an opportunity to reflect on insights gained and/or lessons learned from previous droughts.

In 1992, the trio of Kim Stephens, Ted van der Gulik and Tom Heath collaborated to present two papers on “the British Columbia drought management experience” at the Annual AWWA Conference that was held in Vancouver. Their presentations were then adapted and published as an integrated magazine article by the former BC Professional Engineer, forerunner of today’s Innovation Magazine.

The authors as they looked in 1992

What They Wrote in 1992

The summer of 1992 has once again heightened awareness throughout British Columbia of the limited capabilities of many existing water supply sources. Although there is a perception that BC is water-rich, the reality is that we are often seasonally water-short (mainly because of storage limitations) during the period when water demand is heaviest due to lawn and garden irrigation,” state the authors in their opening paragraph.

“For the third time in six years, drought conditions have been experienced in the southern part of BC, and in particular the Greater Vancouver region. The 1987 drought is one of the most extreme on record, with a return period rating in the order of 100 years. It followed a relatively benign period of almost half a century.”

“The extended duration of this benign period may have lulled water supply managers into a false sense of security, especially with respect to the reliable watershed yields of surface water sources during a “dry” summer following a low snowpack winter. The last six years may possibly be reminiscent of conditions in the 1920s.”

Link to downloadable document

To read the complete article by Ted van der Gulik, Tom Heath and Kim Stephens, click on Water, Water Everywhere…Does British Columbia Really Need A Water Conservation Strategy?

How the Water Conservation Committee evolved over time to become the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

In 1992, the Water Conservation Committee was formed as a technical committee of the BC Water & Waste Association. Kim Stephens,  Ted van der Gulik (BC Ministry of Agriculture) and Tom Heath (Greater Vancouver Water District) were founding members.

From Conservation to Water Use Efficiency to Water Sustainability

“In 1994, the Committee renamed itself the Water Use Efficiency Committee to be consistent with the ‘National Action Plan on Municipal Water Use Efficiency’. In 2002, the Committee renamed itself the Water Sustainability Committee as part of a restructuring and renewal process,” explains Kim Stephens, now the Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“In 1997, the Committee partnered with the former Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks to develop A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia. The  Committee then entered into a 3-year Partnership Agreement with Environment Canada and the Province in 1998 to promote  implementation of the Strategy province-wide. This was the genesis of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, released in 2004.”

Incorporation of the Partnership as a Society

“From 2003 through 2010, the Water Sustainability Committee was the hub for a partnership network operating in the local government setting. Going forward, the Partnership is now that hub,” stated Tim Pringle, Partnership President, in 2010 when  the Water Sustainability Committee metamorphosed into the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, an autonomous society. To learn more, click here.

This story was originally posted in August 2009. Updated in December 2010.