FLASHBACK TO 2006: “The Convening for Action initiative creates an opportunity to turn ideas into action,” stated Erik Karlsen in a magazine article about the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, and published by Construction Business

Note to Reader:

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia had its genesis in the Water Sustainability Committee, known to many by the acronym WSC, a technical committee of the BC Water & Waste Association.

From 2003 through 2010, the WSC was the hub for a partnership network operating in the local government setting. With incorporation of the Partnership as a non-profit society in November 2010, the former WSC morphed into “the Partnership” to deliver the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia (“the Action Plan”), released in February 2004. The Action Plan was personally reviewed and approved by former Premier Gordon Campbell.

The March/April 2006 issue of Construction Business magazine included a feature article describing the first two years of Action Plan implementation. Endorsed by Minister of Environment Barry Penner, the article celebrated the early success 0f the Action Plan program. Edited by Kim Stephens, it weaved a storyline built around quotable quotes by the chairs of Action Plan component initiatives.

In 2020, the Partnership is celebrating sixteen years of successful Action Plan implementation.

Framework for Building Partnerships

“The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia provides a partnership umbrella for an array of on-the-ground initiatives that promote a ‘water-centric’ approach to community planning.” wrote Kim Stephens in the opening sentence.

“Water-centric means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire Province. The Action Plan comprises inter-connected program elements that give local governments and practitioners the tools and experience to do things differently. The over-arching goal is to advance a water balance way-of-thinking and acting.

To achieve the goal, a water-centric approach puts water stewardship and sustainability front and centre on the agenda of comprehensive land use, development or resource planning initiatives.

“Water-centric planning considers the amount of water available, the amount of water needed, innovative efficiency strategies, the quality of water leaving an area, how rain and snow water are managed, and the impact on the natural environment.  Implementation of integrated strategies and solutions ultimately requires integration of missions, mandates and accountabilities of participating agencies.”

Integrated Water Management

“The Water Sustainability Action Plan is aimed at building capacity by improving awareness about effective approaches to the sustainable use of water resources and demonstrating how to integrate these approaches into land and resource planning, development and management decisions at the regional, community through to site levels,” added Ray Fung, WSC Chair (2003-2008). The Action Plan builds on the foundation provided by A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia, developed and implemented during the period 1997 through 2001.

Convening for Action in British Columbia

Initially, the Action Plan comprised six elements. The Convening for Action initiative, for example, was designed to ‘turn ideas into action’ through a three-step process that builds capacity by:

  • Challenging practitioners and others to step back from their existing paradigms (e.g. big pipe solutions, whether for water supply or drainage conveyance);
  • Informing them regarding alternatives (e.g. rainwater harvesting to augment water supply and/or reduce rainwater runoff volume); and
  • Giving them the tools and the experience to do things differently (e.g. the Water Balance Model).

“We are building on the successful precedent that the former Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection established in 2002 when the Ministry published Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia,” stated Erik Karlsen, co-lead for the Convening for Action initiative.

“The Guidebook set in motion a chain of outcomes that has resulted in British Columbia being recognized internationally as a leader in implementing a natural systems approach to rainwater management in the urban environment. The Convening for Action initiative creates an opportunity to move beyond rainwater management to embrace all components of the water cycle through integrated water management. It will turn ideas into action.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete article, download a copy of BCWWA Partners with Province to Deliver Water Sustainability Action Plan

Download a copy of Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia: Framework for Building Partnerships.