ARTICLE: Sustainable Watershed Systems

Note to Reader:

Since 2006, Construction Business magazine has published bi-annual articles that highlight the efforts of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC to encourage changes in land development and water management practices. In 2015, a request by magazine editor Cheryl Mah for an article on water infrastructure issues and asset management created an “awareness-raising opportunity” as the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC prepared to rollout Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. 

Published in October 2015, the article was co-authored by Kim Stephens (Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC), Emanual Machado (Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Gibsons) and David Allen (Chief Administrative Officer, City of Courtenay & Co-Chair, Asset Management BC).

CB Magazine_co-authors_Oct2015

Watershed Systems as Infrastructure Assets

A watershed is an integrated system, is infrastructure, and is an asset that provides municipal services. Watershed systems thinking covers the continuum from water supply to drainage, and encompasses human and/or ecosystem needs.

Where a local government regulates land use, a watershed is an integral part of the drainage infrastructure assets of the local government. More specifically, the three pathways (surface, shallow lateral flow, groundwater) by which rainfall reaches streams are infrastructure assets. They provide ‘water balance services’. As such, protection and maintenance of the three pathways has financial, level-of-service and life-cycle implications for asset management.

Town of Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy

BC local governments are faced with three interconnected issues. The first is to manage more effectively infrastructure and assets that underpin quality of life and economic productivity in an era of scarce resources. The second is to contain costs, taxes and risks.  The third is to maintain community resilience in the face of challenges, including climatic variability and extremes.

The Town of Gibsons is pioneering a strategy that addresses these three issues. The Eco-Asset Strategy is a financial and municipal management approach that complements strategies to maintain, replace and build both traditional engineered assets (roads, storm sewers) and engineered “green” assets (rain gardens).  Moreover, the Eco-Asset Strategy can support municipal climate change adaptation and resilience building efforts.

To Learn More:

To read the complete article co-authored by Kim Stephens, Emanual Machado and David Allen, and published in the September-October 2015 issue of Construction Business magazine, click on Sustainable Watershed Systems to download a PDF copy.

Acknowledgment: Reprinted with permission from Construction Business magazine.

Aerial view of Gibsons Harbour on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia

Aerial view of Gibsons Harbour on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia