A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next” (released November 2020)


Celebration of the Partnership Story:
Genesis / First Decade / What Next

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, the non-profit society responsible for delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan,  reached the 10-year milestone on November 19, 2020. To mark the moment, the Partnership published Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next.

The reader will learn that the combination of a guiding philosophy, committed team members and timely actions built the foundation for The Partnership’s record of success. The Partnership’s mix of program initiatives are building blocks for reconnecting people, land and water.

The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful. When they are successful, we are successful.

“Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia as a not-for-profit society on November 19th 2010 was a milestone moment. Incorporation culminated a multi-year effort; and signified a bold leap forward. The Partnership has not looked back. Now, our journey stretches over three decades,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director.

“A group of like-minded and passionate individuals, including representatives of three levels of government, came together as a committee and created a ‘water roundtable; that evolved over time into The Partnership.”


Download a copy Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next

Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time

“The Partnership personifies what is envisioned by the term ‘collaborative leadership’. Expressed another way, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Is it good luck or good management when a group of individuals come together as a team? It is both. We share a vision for water-centric community development, guided by an understanding of how a community’s land ethic impacts on water,” continues Kim Stephens.

“Erik Karlsen was our ‘eminence grise’. When he retired from government, he turned his mind to the work of the committee. Influential in government, and the architect of BC’s Georgia Basin Initiative, Erik crafted the think pieces that guided the process for development of the Water Sustainability Action Plan.”

“Erik challenged us intellectually and helped all of us push the boundaries of our comfort zones. This brought out the creativity in everyone. The effect was powerful. Erik’s first drafts would focus the brainstorming. The result was a philosophical foundation and framework that has guided The Partnership to this day.”

Erik Karlsen (1945-2020)

The Partnership: Overview of the Journey

“Change rarely occurs overnight. The process is incremental. Thus, the ‘water sustainability journey’ currently stretches over five decades – from the 1980s through the 2020s. The journey has five distinct eras. Identified below, the significance of each era is reflected in the title. Each era is a building block in a process that is long-term in scope,” continues Kim Stephens.
  • 1987 – 1992 > The Genesis – Unprecedented Droughts
  • 1992 – 1997 > BC Response to National Action Plan
  • 1997 – 2002 > A Water Conservation Strategy for BC
  • 2002 – 2010 > Living Water Smart in BC
  • 2010 – 2020 > First Decade as “The Partnership”

Structured in two parts, “Our Story” first sketches an outline of many ideas and nuances about the work of The Partnership. The second part is a deeper dive into the story behind the story. It paints a picture that stretches over three decades. The strokes are broad-brush.

To Learn More:

Download a copy Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next