ARTICLE: Watershed-systems Thinking Meets Asset Management

Note to Reader:

The September-October 2016 issue of Innovation Magazine, the Journal of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC) introduced the APEGBC membership to a new BC sustainability initiative that advances integration of watershed assets into everyday community infrastructure planning and management.


Nature’s Assets Provide Vital Community Infrastructure Services

Innovation magazine  published an article that is a collaborative effort of Kim Stephens (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC), Glen Brown (Union of BC Municipalities), and Brian Bedford (BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development). In addition, Wally Wells (Asset Management BC) provided valuable input to the storyline.

These partners are working together to advance integration of watershed assets into everyday community infrastructure planning and management through a recent provincial initiative called Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework (“the BC Framework”).

Moving Towards a Water-Resilient Future

kim-stephens_june2016_img_0578_120pWhat happens on the land does matter. A watershed is an integrated system, and therefore must be protected and managed as such. Restoring hydrologic integrity, and thus mimic the Water Balance, is the pathway to a water-resilient future,” states Kim Stephens.

“Communities are starting to recognize the value of natural assets and their role in local government service delivery, and include natural assets in their asset management programs.”

It is THE Framework for BC

“Launched in 2015, the BC Framework links directly to and provides support and guidance in meeting the asset management requirements under the Gas Tax Fund,” Glen Brown_Mar-2015_DSC_0506_120pstates Glen Brown, General Manager, UBCM Victoria Operations.

“Stakeholders such as the Province, Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), Local Government Management Association, Government Finance Officers Association, Public Works Association, Planning Institute of BC, BC Water and Waste Association, and others, have endorsed it as the framework for asset management in BC.”

Manage Hard and Natural Assets

“The BC Framework is a powerful tool for local governments to focus community planning and infrastructure decision-making processes on beneficial life-cycle outcomes brian-bedford_trimmed2_120pright from the start—making it a game-changer,” continues Brian Bedford, Director (for Infrastructure & Engineering) with the provincial government.

“It encourages local governments to plan for and act to support seamless sustainable delivery of services to their communities—and to protect, preserve, restore, and manage their natural assets in the same way they manage their hard engineered assets.”

Focus on Desired Outcomes

“Communities are diverse. Asset management, and the best practices that support it, must be scalable to community size, character and capacity,” emphasizes Wally Wells, Wally-Wells_120pExecutive Director, Asset Management BC.

“Recognizing this, the BC Framework focuses on desired outcomes rather than prescribes methodologies. This gives local governments the flexibility to develop and implement measured and incremental approaches tailored to the needs and capacities of their communities.

To Learn More:

Download Sustainable Watershed Systems – Nature’s Assets Provide Vital Community Infrastructure Services

A local government would experience the asset management process for sustainable service delivery as a continuum leading, in this case, towards a water-resilient future. The continuum is illustrated below.

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