Mimic the Water Balance: Partnership releases program overview for Metro Vancouver Seminar on Sustainable Rainwater Management



Note  to Reader:

On September 19, 2013 the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC and the Association of Professional Engineers & Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC) are partnering to offer a seminar that integrates regulatory, historical, local government, science and technology perspectives on the subject of Sustainable Rainwater Management in British Columbia. To register for the seminar, visit the APEGBC website: click here.

The seminar program comprises six modules. To learn more about the scope and educational objective of each, click on Program Overview to download a concise synopsis. The article below supplements the Program Overview and provides context.



Integrate the Site with the Watershed and Stream

“A decade ago, looking at rainfall differently led the Province to embrace the Water Balance Methodology, and initiate fundamental changes in the way rainwater is managed. British Columbia was the first provincial or state government in North America to adopt the Water Balance Methodology as the new way of doing business.,”  reports Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

“The Water Balance Methodology is at the core of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, a provincial guidance document released in 2002. The Guidebook translated science-based understanding so that local governments could establish achievable and affordable performance targets for rainfall capture and runoff control.”

“The Water Balance Model (WBM) was then developed as an extension of the Guidebook. The Water Balance Model is a decision support tool. It bridges engineering and planning; and it enables scenario comparisons to evaluate the hydrologic effectiveness of green infrastructure practices and choices.”

“Since 2007, the ongoing ‘Beyond the Guidebook’ initiative has been building on the Guidebook foundation to provide local governments with the tools and understanding to “integrate the Site with the Watershed and the Stream”, and thereby protect stream health,” emphasizes Kim Stephens.


Structure for Interactive Sharing and Learning

“The seminar curriculum is built around the proven experience of two municipalities that are leading change in the Metro Vancouver region, namely: District of North Vancouver and City of Coquitlam,” continues Kim Stephens.

“The City of Coquitlam is the only Metro Vancouver municipality that has developed, or is currently completing, Integrated Watershed Management Plans for all its watersheds.”

“The District of North Vancouver’s Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint is a provincial demonstration application for the ‘ISMP Course Correction’ and two web-based tools: Water Balance Model Express for Landowners; and Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool. ISMP is the acronym for Integrated Stormwater Management Plans.”

“North Vancouver and Coquitlam case profiles are informing the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative, the purpose of which is to foster collaboration among Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island local governments, so that consistent application of outcome-oriented actions will accelerate restoration and/or protection of watershed and stream health throughout the basin.” emphasizes Kim Stephens.


To Learn More & Register:

To download a copy of the Program Overview, click on this link to 2013 Metro Vancouver Seminar on Sustainable Rainwater Management. This 2-page flyer elaborates on each of the six modules that provide a comprehensive and complete picture of the regulatory, historical, local government, science and technology perspectives .

To register, visit the APEGBCwebsite: website: click here.



Watershed-Based Approach: Leading Change in Coquitlam

“Coquitlam’s Official Community Plan requires that a Watershed Plan be completed before a Neighbourhood Plan can be developed,” continues Melony Burton, Watersheds & Drainage Coordinator. ”This important direction guides appropriate land use in response to a watershed’s unique conditions and needs.  Using this strategy has brought our Planning, Environmental, Engineering, and Parks departments to the table. Both the process and the plan are integrated to achieve practical, cost-effective objectives which balance land use, drainage and the environment.”

“The seminar is an opportunity to share lessons learned by the City of Coquitlam over the past decade. Changing the way we do things means taking on new challenges and not always getting it right the first time. Securing political support for a watershed-based approach to community planning paved the way for development and implementation of rainwater management applications that mimic the Water Balance.”

“Over time, our Integrated Watershed Management Plans will be guided by a Monitoring and Adaptive Management Framework which will allow us to evaluate which strategies are yielding the most positive results and which need modification.”


To Learn More:

For all urban watersheds, Coquitlam is developing integrated watershed management plans (IWMP) to preserve watershed health, while also meeting community needs and facilitating growth and development. IWMP’s use a Net Environmental Benefit approach that strives to improve fish and fish habitat. Click on Integrated Watershed Management for the complete story on the City’s website.

Click on Coquitlam Watershed Boundaries Map to download a PDF copy of the map below.



Watershed-Based Approach: Leading Change in North Vancouver

“Our watershed-based approach to development of the Hastings Creek Blueprint captures the stewardship ethic which is deeply rooted in the North Vancouver community. In our jobs, Ariel Estrada and I deal with the unintended consequences of changes in land use. A key goal in problem-solving is striving to balance environmental protection and sustainability with community drainage and flood protection,” states Richard Boase, the District’s Environmental Protection Officer. He and Ariel Estrada are the Watershed Blueprint co-champions.

“With a clear vision and Blueprint in place, the District will be able to incorporate desired actions into operational work plans and work with the development community to restore watershed function over a period of decades. Couple what we’ve learned from the Ecological Opportunities Assessment with a land redevelopment strategy that strives to mimic the water balance, and then set out on a new path towards sustainable planning for infrastructure and public works,” continues Ariel Estrada,  Project Engineer for drainage infrastructure.


Next: Moving from Planning to Action

“The Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint work has resulted in a balance of science-based understanding and practicality at the watershed scale. Next, engineering and planning will drill down to the individual site scale to implement changes in land development and infrastructure servicing practices,” summarizes Gavin Joyce, the District’s General Manager for Engineering, Parks and Facilities.

“We have a plan; there is agreement about the goals; we are developing tools for use by staff, developers and homeowners; and we have a schedule of opportunities. Everything that we need is in play.”

“The inter-connected Lynn Valley Town Centre and Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint processes are a demonstration application of what was envisioned when a Metro Vancouver working group produced a guidance document titled A Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning, released in 2002,” reports Susan Haid, the District’s Manager of Sustainable Community Development. A decade ago, Susan chaired the inter-municipal working group.


Aerial View of Lynn Valley Town Centre