ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “We are building a language and getting people involved. We are developing ideas and educating people,” stated Kim Stephens at the workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative, (April 2005)

Note to Reader:

The “Penticton Workshop” held as an adjunct to the BCWWA Annual Conference in April 2005 was the first regional event organized under the Convening for Action in British Columbia (CFA) umbrella, an element of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, released a year earlier in February 2004.

The workshop was titled “Demand Management Strategies – Achieving Water Balance” – A Workshop on Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk.

This full-day technical transfer session connected the dots between water resource planning, climate variability and risk management; explored the tools and techniques available through demand-side management; and included a case study application to provide participants with ‘hands-on’ planning practice to demonstrate how to achieve a water balance without relying on new sources and infrastructure.

Building an Informed Community of Practice

The workshop was a collaboration of the BCWWA Water Sustainability Committee (forerunner of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC), the former Land & Water British Columbia (LWBC) and the former Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection.

Wenda Mason of LWBC and Kim Stephens co-moderated the full-day event. Together with Robert Hicks, a Senior Engineer with the Greater Vancouver Regional District, this trio co-developed the program content over a period of many months.


Download a copy of the workshop program: “Demand Management Strategies – Achieving Water Balance” – A Workshop on Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk. Comprehensive in scope, the program identified what participants would learn from each program segment.

Then read a report about the event: Report on Water OUT = Water IN Workshop.

Key Concepts

“The workshop was an important first step in changing the way practitioners approach water supply planning,” stated Kim Stephens, whose responsibilities since 2003 have encompassed development and delivery of the Water Sustainability Action Plan. “We introduced a number of key concepts that we intend to build upon:

  • the water balance equation: Water OUT = Water IN
  • reconciliation of long-term vision and short-term reality
  • choice of language (“lingo”)
  • retirement planning analogy
  • water/energy nexus”

“The program was carefully planned and provided a blend of policy and technical. The District of Highlands Case Study made the day real for participants. Through the Convening for Action initiative, we are building a language and getting people involved. We are developing ideas and educating people. The bottom-line is that we are building an informed community of practice. Looking ahead, we envision that the workshop program would be the template for a training course and ultimately a guidebook.”

“We documented the day by recording it on video. Posted on YouTube, the videos provide a readily accessible record, for posterity, of where our minds were at in 2005. Expressed another way, the videos provide a window into the thinking behind the messages that the members of the workshop team presented. The viewer can listen to and reflect on the words as speakers explain each of their PowerPoint slides. Thus, we envision the videos being of historical value for future researchers.”

Our Workshop Audience

“The workshop attracted a diverse audience of 55, primarily from the Thompson-Okanagan and Vancouver Island regions, and mostly representing smaller communities, including First Nations,” continued Kim Stephens.

“The audience composition was weighted towards water system operators, but also included a smattering of elected officials and community groups. In short, there was a good mix of perspectives for the purposes of stimulating discussion in the Breakout Session.”

“The fact that the audience was diverse also meant that the workshop content had to be communicated in a way that would resonate with all participants. This further underscored the value of the Highlands Case Study as a learning exercise.”

“One of the desired educational outcomes was that participants would be better informed and therefore should be better able to judge the type of advice they may be receive in future from water supply practitioners.”